Skip to main content

Full text of "The Female State Issue 4 (1970)"

See other formats

We Choose Personhood 




issue A 

A Journo I o-f F emale Liberation 

The next day the women gathered in 
a solemn conclave in the meeting hall. 

"Our comrade, Gold Flower/ still suffers 
the evil treatment of her husband/" said 
Dark Jade. "Comrade Gold Flower's personal 
affairs should be taken as the affairs of 
all of us. Alone/ she cannot fight. But 
with us she can fight all bad husbands. 
Now/ are you ready to struggle?" 

"Ready/" answered the crowd. 

"All right/" said Dark Jade/ "we shall 
first try to treat this bad husband by 
reasoning with him. If this does not 
succeed/ we shall no longer be polite." 

The women drew up in ranks like soldiers. 
Gold Flower went to a near-by room. As her 
husband was led in, various shouts burst 
from the crowd. 

"We have turned over....You cannot treat 
us badly or we will beat you to death.... 
Tell us the truth....No arguments....If you 
are frank/ you will be treated better; if 
not/ there will be no mercy." 

Chang stood before the women listening 
to their unfriendly greetings with a 
strained air. "Comrade sisters/" he said/ 
"there has been some mistake. Do you know 
why I married that woman? It was so she 
could serve us and so she could keep alive. 
Do you know how badly she has treated our 

He looked about with an air of injured 

"All right/" said a girl/ "tell us what 
she did to your family." 

Chang looked from one face to another, 
and they were all closed against him. He 
dropped his eyes in embarrassment. " I am 
not acquainted with women turning over...." 

A hiss went up from the crowd. 

" Resolutely oppose that bad husband," 
shouted a girl. 

Jack Belden 

China Shakes the World 

the female state 

A Journal of Female Liberation 

Issue 4 
April, 1970 


Who Is Saying Men Are The Enemy?. 

Speech Is the Form of Thought. 

How We Are Lunatized. 

Pass The Word. 

Motherhood and the Subordination of 

Females and Children. 

Child-Care for the Child. 

Women in the Soviet Union: A Brief Survey. 

Women's Magazines and Womanhood, 1969: 

Part II-Marriage. 

Tell A Woman. 

Abortion-A Woman's Decision or the Law's. 

Within You and Without You. 



Feminism Undermines. 

Tarzan Had Long Hair Too. 

Eve's Sex Under God's Law. 

Why Can't Men Listen to Women?. 

The Plea for Gradualism. 


The Protection Hoax. %#( 

Self Defense and the Preservation of Females. 


Violence and Self Defense. %# 

Using Self Defense. 

On Health. 

% • 

On The Production of Women. 

Friday Night Study Group Excerpts: April 3, 1970 %%# 

Two Letters for Women. 

Poem. % 

371 Somerville Avenue, Somerville, Massachusetts, 02143 

.Dana Densmore 
.Dana Densmore 

.Lisa Leghorn.16 

.Jeanne Lafferty.20 

Hilary Langhorst.22 

Lisa Leghorn.26 


.Dana Densmore.34 

.Donna Allen.42 

Betsy Warrior.43 

Dana Densmore.45 

Gai 1 Murray.58 

Indra Dean Allen.59 

Lisa Leghorn.60 

Dana Densmore. 66 

Hilary Langhorst.73 

Donna Allen. 86 

Dana Densmore. 88 

Hilary Langhorst.91 

Betsy Warrior. 94 

Jeanne Lafferty and Evelyn Clark..96 

Gail Murray.98 

.Pat Galligan. 99 

.Pat Galligan.loi 

.Delpfine Welch.103 

► Barbara Deck.105 

►Janet Jones, Nancy Robbins and 

Holly Odell.108 

► Hilary Langhorst.ill 

► Dawn Warrior.116 

vo 4 ^ 


The question "Are men the enemy?" has always struck 
me as a curious one. 

If enemies are perceived as that force against 
which one does battle and against whom (having killed 
off sufficient numbers) one wins, the concept is ob¬ 
viously inappropriate. 

It is clear to me that in its form "I object to 
your attitude that men are the enemy" the issue is a 
dishonest one: it is an attempted smear or a defensive 
counterattack against the force of our analysis 
(whether delivered by frightened men or frightened 
women) . 

It makes it appear that if we do anything but em¬ 
brace all men, whatever their individual attitude, as 
our friends and allies, treating them as allies how¬ 
ever they treat us, if we so much as speak of men 
generally as "our oppressors", then it must be that 
we regard them as "enemies" in the sense of an op¬ 
ponent so all-powerful and implacable that he must be 
killed in order to be neutralized. 

Of course we couldn't kill off all men if we wanted 
to, but the point is that it isn't necessary and we 
all know it. It is the situation men and women find 
themselves in, the structures of society and the 
attitudes of women, that make it possible for men to 

Given power and privileges, told by society that 
these are not only legitimate but the essence of his 
manhood, it is not surprising that a man should accept 
an oppressor's role. But if women refused to co¬ 
operate, and if they demanded changes in the struc¬ 
tures, institutions and attitudes of society, then 
men, whatever their desires, could not and therefore 
would not oppress women. 

An industrialist, seeking to maximize profits, 
might wish to pay his human labor subsistence wages 
rather than minimum legal or contract-negotiated wages 
But laws, unions, and attitudes of the society about 
social justice together prevent him from doing so. 

The same would apply to men's oppression of women. 

It could become illegal, impossible, and unfashionable 
And it will. 

The distinction is often made in the female liber- 


ation movement between an "enemy" and an "oppressor" 
The real enemy/ I think we all agree, is sexism and 
male supremacy: a set of attitudes held by men and 
women and institutionalized in our society ( and in 
all societies throughout history). 

The origin of these attitudes and institutions is 
immaterial. Whether they were instituted by men act¬ 
ing out of fear of women or by society as a whole for 
the survival of the species is irrelevant. Whether it 
was some kind of "plot" or "just the way things 
evolved" need not concern us. All we care about are 
the conditions right now , because it is right now that 
we propose to change. If traditional attitudes are 
inappropriate or unjust today in our experience, then 
they must be replaced. 

I think we will learn more about the origins of 
sexism, and what role men will play in the revolu¬ 
tion that will destroy it, by watching how men deal 
with our call for liberation than by setting up a_ 
priori categories of enemy and ally. 

Men clearly function as oppressors in a sexist 
society. But it may be just the situation, something 
they can't help. It may be because women permit and 
even encourage such oppression. But if that is the 
case, and men are innocent and well-meaning, then we 
will see that demonstrated in their response to our 
rejection of our role as victim and our criticism of 
the institutions that cast men into the role of 

They will probably be surprised at first, showing 
the signs of being forced to think completely new 
thoughts (e.g., maybe women are just as smart, maybe 
it's not appropriate for them to live for "their 
man", etc.). But, given encouragement, education, 
and demonstrations of how strongly we feel, they will 
declare themselves our allies. 

They will not continue to ridicule us (if indeed 
they ever did), they will not play dumb and demand 
that the same thing be explained over and over as if 
we had never said a word to them, they will not set 
themselves up as an "enemy". They will show respect 
for us as persons and for our cause as appropriate 
and legitimate. 

In fact it turns out that men sort themselves out 
into allies and "enemies". 


A man who senses himself to be our "enemy" will say 
certain things that reveal his attitude. One standard 
approach of the less subtle school is "Why do you want 
to kill off all the men?" 

This man may be just attempting to smear you or the 
movement. He may even couch it in pseudo-sympathetic 
terms such as "I agree with you completely, but why 
do you want to kill off all the men?" This is to 
alarm all people standing around and to let you know 
what sort of image the movement has (or will have when 
he gets through shooting off his mouth) . 

Or, he may just be making a bid for attention. 

You've long since giving up discussing these issues 
with men out of acute boredom, but he knows that by 
throwing in something like this he can scare you into 
defending your image, into protesting that you do not 
want to kill off all the men. Once his foot is in the 
door, he can trap you into a long conversation about 
the merits of the movement and give you a great deal 
of unsolicited advice about how you should really be 

But sometimes this statement is made honestly, that 
is, out of an honest fear. This sort of man reveals 
his sense of his own enmity just as much as the 
others. What he means is: "I will fight to the death 
to maintain my privileges and my power; if you intend 
to take them away from me you will have to kill me." 

Another ploy, a little more subtle, is "Why do you 
want to get rid of sex?" Again, this may be a smear, 
a bid for attention, or an honest fear. 

When it is an honestly felt fear, what he means is: 
"I cannot conceive of sex / cannot be sexually interest¬ 
ed in a woman, unless I am in a superior-to-inferior, 
active-to-passive, aggressor-to-victim relationship 
with her. If you are going to insist that we must 
approach each other as equals you will have destroyed 
sex and you might as well demand permanent celibacy." 

Such men set themselves up as enemies by their 
actions and attitudes, but still it is inappropriate 
for us_ to conceive of them as such. They are not 
enemies. They are irrelevant. And they are foolish, 
because they are going to lose in the end anyway, and 
they have passed up their chance to be heroes . 

If a man with whom we are involved emotionally acts 
that way, naturally we will leave him, not to punish 


him or strike back at him, but because we have impor¬ 
tant things to do and he is a drag (or worse). But 
our work is with ourselves, with other women, and with 
society as a whole, with the established, institution¬ 
alized attitudes of society. 

It is demoralizing, self-defeating, and ultimately 
boring to try to convert individual men who are deter¬ 
mined to hold on to their power (and a liberal man who 
grants almost everything but is willing to fight 
viciously for the last 2% of superiority can be even 
more dangerous than the man who won't give at all). 

And as far as killing the men — there are so many 
self-styled enemies that the disposal of the bodies 
alone would be a national problem, not to mention the 
problem of "womanning" the slaughter houses when there 
are so many more interesting things to do in a world 
women are just discovering. It would be quite im¬ 

Fortunately, it is not necessary either to convert 
or to kill all the would-be oppressors, however ready 
they appear to be to defend their honor with their 
lives. A majority can be oppressed by a minority only 
with the assent of the victim, the belief by the 
victim that she is inferior, that it is appropriate 
that she be oppressed. 

If the minds of the women are freed from these 
chains, no man will be able to oppress any woman. No 
man can, even now, in an individual relationship; all 
the woman has to do is walk out on him. And ironi¬ 
cally enough, that is exactly what would force the 
men to shape up fastest. Not very many men could 
tolerate being deserted, especially over a political 
issue. And all that's needed is for the woman to 
learn enough respect for herself to be unwilling to 
live with a man who treats her with contempt. 

Men are not our "enemies" and we should refuse to 
play "enemy" games with them. If they ridicule us or 
try to smear us or isolate us, we must laugh and walk 
out. "Winning rounds" with individual men will not 
bring our final victory closer and cannot change 
contempt and terror into a generous respect. Chal¬ 
lenges by individual women to individual men have 
always been met the same way: threats, ridicule, 
smears, repression. These are the prescribed ways for 
men to defend their "manhood" against "castrating 



Only the march of the whole movement can force 
the deep re-evaluation that will enable such men to 
adjust to the reality of women as people and learn to 
deal in an adult way with their fears and insecuri¬ 

Dana Densmore 
February, 1970 

"...No genuine social revolution can be accomplish¬ 
ed by the male/ as the male on top wants the status 
quo, and all the male on the bottom wants is to be the 
male on top. The male 'rebel' is a farce; this is the 
male's 'society/' made by him to satisfy his needs. 
He's never satisfied, because he's not capable of 
being satisfied. Ultimately/ what the male 'rebel' 
is rebelling against is being male. The male changes 
only when forced to do so by technology, when he has 
no choice, when 'society' reaches the stage where he 
must change or die. We're at that stage now; if 
women don't get their asses in gear fast, we may very 
well all die." 

Valerie Solanas 
S .C.U.M. Manifesto 


with a new glossary 

Sexism is so pervasive in human culture that even 
the language reflects it. 

And not just in superficial elements of vocabulary, 
the way racism is revealed in the adjective "flesh - 
colored" (the color of Band-Aids) and sexism in the 
adjective "manpower" (when both sexes are providing 
the power in question, and even when it is being pro¬ 
vided entirely by women*). 

No, the most basic elements of our grammar are built 
on it: case in point, the personal pronouns. 

In most cases when the pronoun "he" is used, "he or 
she" is really meant; often it is confusing not to be 
able to express this. Does the speaker or writer mean 
just "he" or does he or she really mean either? (The 
"he or she" in the previous sentence refers to the in¬ 
dividual speaker or writer that was the subject of the 
sentence. But observe my difficulty in this entirely 
unpremeditated sentence. "He or she", when we are 
talking about the expression "he or she", is extremely 
confusing. But to repeat "speaker or writer" would 
have been oppressively wordy. And "he", which I must 
confess I wrote first, would have been seized upon 
instantly by my hawk-eyed sisters in struggle. In 
this context I can solve the problem by a long expla¬ 
nation about what the sentence really means and how I 
come to use a confusing construction. In another con¬ 
text I would have been forced into a compromise with 
awkwardness and inexactitude.) 

The lack of a pronoun for "he or she" also forces 
a distinction in the case of an individual whose sex 
is not known or when the speaker would prefer not to 
reveal it. 

When members of a group which is 99% women are re¬ 
ferred to as "he" it may be startling, but when the 
group is all women it can be disorienting. However, 
it is often considered proper form to say "he" if there 
is even a theoretical possibility that men might be 

* "Menstrual pain accounts for an enormous loss of man¬ 

power hours." Erna Wright, Painless Menstral Periods , 
Hart Publishing Co., 1968. 


The reasoning for this is very similar to our 
reasoning here: to say "she" would discourage the 
potential males. They might feel that the activity/ 
profession, etc. was not for them/ or that they would 
be unimportant if they were present/ maybe unnoticed 
amongst all the women. 

It is not required to say "he" if there is no pos¬ 
sibility / even theoretical, that a male may be present 
or included, such as in a girls' gym class or a ladies' 
room. However, the habit is so deeply ingrained that 
we are often startled, amused, or discomfitted to hear 
it even then. 

I have personally suffered the embarrassment of ad¬ 
dressing women in a female liberation karate class I 
was teaching using the masculine pronoun. They were 
astonished, outraged. But I wonder if they haven't 
been caught in such automatic sexism when it was their 
mouths which happened to be open. One must speak, 
after all, and we only have one language. What can 
we do if it's sexist? 

It is amusing to watch the contortions into which 
(other) speakers and writers must twist their statements 
in order to deal with this intransigency of our lan¬ 
guage. Besides the ambiguous and often confusing "he',' 
there is the ungrammatical "they", the bulky "he or 
she", the reworking of sentences into the passive tense 
so as to avoid the use of the active subject, and the 
repetition of the noun to avoid the problematical pro¬ 

Entertaining examples are always at hand. One radio 
commercial, recruiting students for a computer training 
course, states: "This is a good field for any man or 
woman who wants to better himself." Now that sounds 
startling, absurd, with the "him" following the "woman" 
so closely. 

But "him- or herself" was obviously too bulky, and 
anyway "him- or herself", though correct, has an odd 
sound: they probably would have been forced to use the 
ungrammatical but more familiar-sounding "his or her- 

But on the other hand, they didn't want to say "... 
for any person who wants to better himself" because 
they realized that women would automatically exclude 
themselves (or feel excluded) and they wanted women to 
enroll in their course too. 


Sometimes/ of course/ it is ambiguous whether women 
are included and this ambiguity is useful because they 
aren't. Or, women are included if you get technical, 
but the speaker would rather not emphasize that (if 
women can do it too, can it be so great?). Or they 
are included, because otherwise it would be illegal, 
but maybe if it appears solidly masculine they won't 

A new set of words, explicitly asexual, could take 
the teeth out of that sort of discriminatory state¬ 
ment by removing this ambiguity. Things would be ad¬ 
dressed to human individuals, where formerly the use 
of "he" coupled with tradition exerted a chilling ef¬ 
fect on the exercise of rights. (It can't be proven 
to be discriminatory, since after all, "he" does in¬ 
clude "she", doesn't it?—but it carries that conno¬ 
tation nonetheless because women know perfectly well 
that sometimes it doesn't.) 

What is the significance of this particular dif¬ 
ferentiation by sex, anyway? "They" is genderless. 

And not only does that not cause confusion, it is a 
lot easier (witness its frequent adoption for the 

The first thing that strikes us when we turn our 
attention to the singular is the three forms: he, 
she, it. You couldn't prove i t, of course, but it 
has the connotation of a hierarchy. "He", first, at 
the top. "She", next, under him, midway between him 
(man) and it (nature). And finally, "it", an inani¬ 
mate, nonsentient object. 

The solution appears to be to follow the "they" 
form, at least for personal pronouns. Let us be 
generous and leave "it" if anyone wants it. (If no 
one does, our asexual personal pronoun will do for 
that as well.) 

I have here a modest proposal for a new glossary 
of personal pronouns. 

Nominative case: she. "She" is appropriate for the 
"he or she" usage because within the one word it con¬ 
tains both the old "he" and the old "she". It is 
therefore the perfect universal nominative pronoun. 

(I am conscious of the fact that the suggestion of 
using the formerly feminine pronoun for the new asexu¬ 
al case is a radical one. It would undoubtedly cause 


some confusion during the transition period. However, 

I think that, in this case, that very confusion would 
be healthy. If nothing else, it would show men how it 
feels to have one's inclusion uncertain and permit 
women a hint of what it feels like to live in a world 
that is theirs .) 

Objective case: herm. This includes ,, her ,, and "him". 
(An alternative spelling with the same pronunciation 
is "hirm". "Herm" is to be preferred, however, as it 
has the connotation of "hermaphrodite", a word for 
beings with both male and female sexual organs. This 
connotation will help smooth the transition period 
while we get used to the new word.) 

Possessive case: heris. This will be used for "hers 
or his", including both words both in the spelling 
and in the sound. 

In addition to sounding very much like the old 
words, and being explicitly singular (avoiding the 
ambiguity that would arise if we merely adopted the 
word "they" for all uses) , these new words are very 
short, both written and spoken, comparable to the 
previous words. 

Only "heris" is longer than the old word (two syl¬ 
lables instead of one) , but in practical speech it 
will probably sound like one syllable, like our cur¬ 
rent word "hers" only with the "s" at the end a soft 
"s" rather than a "z" sound. 

The old words will have to be scrapped entirely. If 
it is necessary for some reason to specify sex, it will 
have to be done deliberately. All pipe joints and 
electrical connectors are "it"s, and if it is relevant 
whether a particular one is male or female, that must 
be specified as an adjective to the noun. 

The point about the old words being scrapped entire¬ 
ly is a crucial one. It is implied in the fact that 
in one case I have chosen for our new asexual pronoun 
a word (she) that formerly denoted one of the sexual 

There has been some question about this issue. The 
reaction of a friend to whom I showed this article in 
its first draft was that it was good to enrich the 
language by adding new words, but undesirable to take 


away precision by retiring the old ones. 

I thought a great deal about this issue myself as 
I was formulating this proposal. But my conclusion 
was that it is essential to actually replace the sexu¬ 
al pronouns as being so offensive in principle that 
what usefulness they had could not justify their re¬ 

I gave the example of male and female electrical 
connections, for which the pronoun is not differen¬ 
tiated. Let me give a political example now. Suppose 
racism was so long established that there were dif¬ 
ferent personal pronouns for white and nonwhite. Sup¬ 
pose "he" specified a white person, "se" a black per¬ 

There would be a certain usefulness to this dis¬ 
tinction, which would probably be even more useful to 
blacks, who must constantly talk about whites and dis¬ 
tinguish by race, since race affects their lives so 
much. (To whites who live in a white world, it 
wouldn't be as necessary; they rarely have occasion 
to mention blacks at all.) 

However, it would not surprise us very much if 
black people felt bitter that they were considered 
so different, so alien, as to require a different 
pronoun. We would not shed tears over the precision 
that was being lost to the language if the racist 
word were dropped entirely. And if we did shed such 
tears, it would be taken as racism (we really want 
to be able to differentiate clearly that way) mas¬ 
querading as an effete, precious concern for the 

No, in that case we would recognize that human suf¬ 
fering and human dignity are far more important than 
maintaining a discriminatory precision. 

While we are at this, nouns will have to be dealt 
with too. It seems that it is probably useful to 
maintain adjectives with the meanings "male" and 
"female" for when the distinction is relevant, but 
nouns should be desexualized. Perhaps we can take 
"woman" to mean "man or woman" since it contains 
both, or perhaps we could learn to use "human", "per¬ 
son", and "people" as our asexual nouns. 

The discrimination-by-connotation in the use of 
"man" for "man or woman" is even more flagrant than 
in the case of the personal pronouns. 


Employment advertisements blare: "We want a man 
who...." unless of course they want keypunch opera¬ 
tors , secretaries, or receptionists. 

And then there are the pronouncements "Man is.... 
[supply various statements about the nature of man¬ 
kind, some of which you might like to emulate if you 
thought you were allowed]". The same sort of state¬ 
ments are made in the form "A man.... [what he is or 
what he may do or should do] . 

If you make a study of statements like these it 
turns out that with a few exceptions what they actu¬ 
ally mean by "man" is the male of the species with 
the understanding that the female goes along as wife 
or daughter, similar to the old idea that women didn't 
need to vote because she had a man to vote for her, 
and the current idea that a married woman doesn't 
need credit because she has her husband's. 

Sometimes it turns out not to include women at all, 
as in a statement I once read to the effect that "Man 
crawled out of the primordial ooze, conquered nature, 
and then set about conquering the female." This was 
the prelude to a rather serious article about man the 
species and how he lived and developed. 

I noticed the opening wording, of course, but I 
think that in general we understand well enough that 
"man" means "men" that we could read that opening 
statement and the rest of the article (in which "man" 
means "men plus their families") without finding it 
too strikingly absurd. 

Unlike the case of the personal pronouns, we do 
have asexual nouns already (human, person, people) , 
and they are used at times. 

But they will have to be used more, even if they 
sound strange or strained. That is to be expected. 

The language wasn't constructed around concepts like 
"person", a word that can include man and woman with¬ 
out differentiation, as if they were the same class 
of beings. And we don't think of them that way now. 
That's why it sounds strange. 

But just as racists who really don't think black 
kids are the same species as white kids can be forced 
to send them off to schools together as^ if_ they were 
the same, sexists (all of us) can be forced to speak 
a£ if_ men and women are the same species, to be re¬ 
ferred to without discrimination as a "person". 


Androcentric language is first a symptom of sexism, 
but it also reinforces it and permits abuses such as 
subtly shutting women out. To the extent that it is 
a symptom, enforcing these changes will not abolish 
sexism. But it would raise consciousness and permit 
women to begin to feel that they are not a different 
species, not, in fact, a useful afterthought lodged 
between man and nature. 

Dana Densmore 
March 1970 

Women are one-half the world, but until a century ago, 
..women lived a twilight life, a half life apart, 
and looked out and saw men as shadows walking. It was 
a man's world. The laws were men's laws, the govern¬ 
ment a man's government, the country a man's country. 
Now women have won the right to higher education and 
economic independence. The right to become citizens 
of the state is the next and inevitable consequence of 
education and work outside the home. We have gone so 
far; we must go farther. We cannot go back. 

M. Carey Thomas, 1908 



(Note: The verb To Lunatize fulfills the need for a 
word which means to cast aspersions on one's sanity, 
to make one feel crazy or doubt the legitimacy of one's 
position. This word becomes necessary as we begin to 
see more clearly and attempt to articulate the extent 
of the psychology that binds us to our oppression. The 
subtle nature of our oppression is revealed in the fact 
that we are lunatized; we are treated affectionately, 
as darling pets to be tolerated and never taken ser¬ 
iously until we begin to effect some change. Then we 
are dangerous "crazies" (witches) who must be wiped 
out or somehow not dealt with at all. This word is 
especially accurate as it pertains to women's oppres¬ 
sion, for luna, the Latin word for moon, has been 
associated with women throughout many cultural myths. 
Women are said to be governed by the phases of the 
moon. The goddess Hecate, ruler of witchcraft and 
sorcery, and Diana the sorceress represented different 
aspects of the moon. Throughout history, women who 
have not accepted their given role have been termed 
witches. Man had to create an alternate, evil myth 
for women who would not be ruled.) 

Perhaps one of our greatest problems as women has 
been our inability to respect ourselves or the legi¬ 
timacy of our positions. It's served as one of the 
strongest forces keeping women in subjegation. The 
superiority of men is expounded and reinforced in every 
aspect of our lives. We all believe it so fundamen¬ 
tally that we cringe at the sight of a member of our 
sex defying the order of nature. She becomes a bitch, 
Amazon or lesbian in our eyes, obnoxious and revolt¬ 
ing for stepping out of the role assigned her. As 
long as we attempt to assume positions of male autho¬ 
rity or individually protest our status as women, we 
will be degraded in the same way. For we will be 
freaks, misfits in a man's world that maintains the 
male-dominated power relations. Only if women as a 
group assert feminism at every level can there be 
hope for substantial change. 

At the same time it's becoming clear that we can 
only trust our own inclinations. The backlash has 
the weight and "evidence" of centuries of patriarchy 
and the "proof" of all "civilized" cultures that our 


protest is crazy. All laws, attitudes, values and 
traditions have been created by men. We can be sure 
that they won't encourage us to define or seek our 
true potential or question the values which so serve 
their purposes. Yet we know we're on the right track 
when we see the violent opposition we receive to even 
the weakest expression of our doubts. 

The tactic of dehumanizing and lunatizing the op¬ 
position or anyone who questions is an attempt to mask 
a defensive, superficial and fearful reaction. The 
reaction comes from terror that the oppressed might 
rise up and assert the immorality of their oppression. 
The oppressor's strength would be pulled out from under 
him. Men have developed entire civilizations based 
on their fear of woman. Rather than work through their 
fear in a rational or constructive way, they have 
chosen two mechanisms to deal with women. First, men 
must dominate. If they are denied this channel, they 
refuse to face women altogether. And this is how men 
react when confronted with the beginning of women's 
protest. They laugh hysterically. Liberals have 
learned to make sarcastic cut-downs. Either method is 
geared toward devaluing the protest. They serve not 
only to make women question their legitimacy, but also 
to allow men to continue to feel on top of the situ¬ 
ation. Yet if one examines either the laughter or the 
sarcasm, one finds a great deal of true hysteria. Men 
have given a superficial response to a situation they 
can't begin to cope with. Most "strength" and height¬ 
ened ego they have has been built, strengthened and 
maintained by the daily gratification they receive 
from the oppression of women. Even to comment on 
women's appearance (girl-watching) is to assert a po¬ 
sition of authority and to assume that one's approba¬ 
tion is desired. Most men's strength is based on the 
superficial gratification they receive from the pres¬ 
ence of women. For women to deny them the slightest 
privileges is to threaten their entire definition. For 
men have defined themselves in terms of those qualities 
they deny (yet exert over) women. And they have refused 
any part of those qualities by which they define women. 
So men respond by laughing, a tactic intended to reduce 
women to a whimpering state of inarticulateness. 

In the past, because most of the protest women 
voiced was individual and personal, they felt illegi- 


timate. They believed not only that their doubts were 
unfounded but that they were less desirable women for 
having voiced them. But now women are beginning to 
continue their protests. On a mass scale, we find the 
same tactics used against us. Leftist groups debate 
over the place they should accord the woman's movement 
in their revolution. Yet we also see the alternative 
escape being used. Many men, when confronted by women 
on the street who are unobliging to their comments, 
requests or rapes, have simply turned and fled!! If 
for no other reason than men's frenzied reactions we 
know our assertions are hitting vital weak spots. 

Yet we have been lunatized in an even more fundamen¬ 
tal way. We haven't believed in the historical or 
scientific cause of our emotionality. Sexism, having 
created in us intense emotional poles, has turned 
and used this phenomenon as further evidence of our 
biological inferiority. The roots of our boredoms as 
well as our rages and depressions lie in our inability 
to adjust to a life that refuses to concede our human¬ 

Women's boredom with men's activities and concerns 
has been received with gentility. Men "honor" women's 
complaints with a nod and a wink amongst themselves. 

Of course the "little lady" wouldn't be interested in 
such matters. It's far better that she remain at home 
and concern herself with her own activities (which for 
her should prove far more stimulating) . But when we 
investigate why these matters are boring to her, we 
find clues to the subtle nature of sexism. Boredom 
can be a reaction to irrelevancy or dogmatism. Men's 
activities can't help but be irrelevant to women. 

Women know that nothing men discuss will greatly affect 
their lives. The only things that would affect women's 
lives, i.e. changes in the sex roles, will only come 
about through the efforts of women anyway. Certainly 
men, who superficially profit so much from the sex 
roles as they exist, will not choose to discuss or 
change them. Men's concerns rest with preserving their 
superior status and proving their importance to the 
world, if not with directly asserting their desire to 
be on top. These dogmatic assertions stem from in¬ 
security. Female liberation does not entail simply 
depriving men of their superficial identities. It 
asserts the necessity for men and demands the freedom 


for women to define themselves in terms of concrete 
achievements, creativity and humane relations with 
others. Woman's boredom has assured both men and 
women of woman's inferior mental capacities. But as 
we account for our boredom, we will demand that all 
discussion and change be relevant to us. We will also 
demand the fulfillment of more humane values and con¬ 
cerns. Personal definitions will be based on indivi¬ 
dual creativity and contribution rather than dogmatic 
assertions and gestures symbolic of a superior caste 
of people. 

With no outlet for creative energies or for the re¬ 
sulting rage and confusion, we have often fallen into 
depressions. In the past we have seen no possibili¬ 
ties of integrating our desires and potentials with 
the expectations and duties of women. Attempts at 
personal solutions or escapes have, at best, brought 
us to situations confronting more sophisticated sexism. 
But in the future we will learn to interpret these 
symptoms as confrontations directly or elusively with 
the narrow possibilities of the past. We will believe 
in the justification of our exasperation to the point 
that we fight fundementally all assertions of male 

Lisa Leghorn 
January, 1970 

"BOREDOM: Life in a 'society' made by and for 

creatures who, when they are not grim and depressing 
are utter bores, can only be, when not grim and de¬ 
pressing, an utter bore." 


Valerie Solanas 
S.C.U.M. Manifesto 



Many people seem to avoid using the word female 
out of a sense of propriety, as if it were not quite 
polite. Some people wince when it is used. It is 
true that the word female has been used against us 
in the past by people whose imperfect perceptions 
told them that to strip away the social trappings 
that constitute the finished product known as '’woman” 
would be to leave only a weak and sniveling creature, 
the embodiment of evil, a blot on the face of humanity 

Since we disagree with this analysis our acceptance 
of the term comes from a different starting point. We 
found that the words male and female had separate 
origins. (This can be seen in the Latin roots femina 
and masculus) . We used the word female at first for 
the obvious purpose of differentiating between our¬ 
selves and the so-called opposite sex. But we also 
discovered that female easily becomes an adjective, 
as in female people, female children, female doctor 
etc., thereby implying that one's genital arrangement 
is not necessarily what best describes one at all 
times. It is more scientific to be able to distinguish 
between instances when one's femaleness is essential 
and when it is auxiliary. This is not so easily done 
with the word woman, although there have been reported 
attempts made in this direction by people who cling to 
their blind distrust of so naked a concept as female. 

It might be more sensible to question the word 
woman, which has more social implications and innuen¬ 
dos. It often implies that to fulfill the require¬ 
ments of one's sex is an achievement rather than a 
given biological fact. Somewhere in the process of 
striving for the rewards offered to "good women" we 
became aware of our humiliating role as men's willing 
victims, and that to be a woman meant to dress and act 
the part of a clown. How then could the simple biolo¬ 
gical designation of female be more embarrassing than 
the social definition of woman? 

It should be borne in mind that it wasn't until a 
few years after the inception of the civil right move¬ 
ment that Black people discarded the term "Negro" as 
a suitable definition for themselves. But this re¬ 
jection, when it came, was a powerful expression of 


the radical changes that Blacks had begun to bring 
about in all aspects of their lives. 

It is becoming painfully clear that the word liber¬ 
ation in reference to our movement is rapidly being 
replaced by a small, enigmatic three letter invention 
(lib) which makes its way into headlines, articles, 
leaflets, speeches and into our everyday language. 

An explanation of this annoying practice is long past 
due. Those who have thought once about it present 
this usage in terms of economy and convenience. What 
is difficult however, is an explanation of why these 
efficiency experts waited so long to save on the word 
liberation. Perhaps the National Liberation Front is 
more easily converted to the NLF, but what about the 
Black Liberation movement? And certainly Third World 
Liberation is enough of a mouthful to warrant modifi¬ 
cation. It would appear that the substitution of lib 
for liberation is more an attempt at diminution rather 
than abbreviation, a lessening rather than a shortening. 
Such was the case with the predominant use of suffra¬ 
gette in place of the traditional (respected) suffra¬ 
gist. It could be that those who favor such reductions 
feel that it makes the concept easier to swallow. This 
depends entirely on who is doing the swallowing. 

The word liberation signifies to us freedom from 
oppressive social relations, sexual humiliation, fear 
and daily outrages and indignities which are our lives. 
The word liberation, because of its reference to all 
oppressed peoples. Blacks, Orientals, Third World and 
Working Class people, constantly relates our movement 
to these others. It shows lack of respect and serious¬ 
ness about the Female Movement not to use this word in 
all its strength and dignity. 

Jeanne Lafferty 

My wish is to ride the tempest, tame the waves, kill 
the sharks, I want to drive the enemy away to save 
our people. I will not resign myself to the usual 
lot of women who bow their heads and become concubines. 

Trieu Thi Trinh 
Vietnamese Women 



Traditionally women have been expected to have sole 
responsibility for child—raising• Until cjuite recent 
ly a woman could escape the bearing of children only 
by sexually isolating herself from men (as nuns did) , 
or by submitting to an operation to destroy the fetus 
or to prevent conception from ever occurring. Con¬ 
traceptive devices have made it possible for a female 
to choose whether or not to breed. The unmarried 
girl and the wife taking the pill feel freer than 
their mothers did to decide what they want to do. 

Why is it then that women of all classes still have 
child after child? With no other alternative of mak¬ 
ing a living, the majority of women inevitably attempt 
to find financial support for themselves by producing 
and caring for a man's children. Marriage may not be 
an economic necessity for a woman with a decent-paying 
job, but her status as wife and mother protects her 
from mistreatment by society (other males) and from 
some of the loneliness and worthlessness she feels as 
a female. 

The struggle to give a child life is not enough; a 
woman must give herself up to feeding, clothing and 
training it. A mother is occupied 24 hours of the day 
Whatever part of her mind is not totally absorbed in 
the process of the child’s growth is stunted by the 
lack of any other companionship or information than 
that which is given to women-and-children as a unit. 
Her maternal service is understood to have moral but 

not economic value; that is, by doing this work, a 

female does not contribute as a single person to the 
whole of society - she only contributes to the family 
in which her personality and the child's are submerged 
She obtains her significance by way of her husband, 
the child's father. A woman on welfare is required to 

relate to the state in the same way. If a father 

abandons his child, he is condemned for not providing 
the money to feed and clothe the child. When a mother 
leaves her child, she not only is denying it financial 
support, but "love" - that is, the 24 hour attention 
that is basic to its survival. (This censure may be 
escaped if the new-born infant is immediately trans¬ 
ferred to the care of a foster-mother.) If she has a 


job that takes her out of the home/ she must make some 
arrangement to substitute a friend's, a relative*s, or 
a condescending husband's attention. 

Many families depend on the earnings of a working- 
mother , but, even when essential, her contribution is 
always in question. Not merely because she earns less 
than a man, but because she can not be the image of 
the competent mother. The church, laws, schools and 
the media reinforce the age-old idea that a woman's 
life is unnatural and meaningless unless focused upon 
a man or a child. In either case she exists to 
provide service. It is inevitable that the frustra¬ 
tions of the unequal male-female relationship, ground¬ 
ed in the contradiction between master and slave, 
direct a woman to depend on her protective relation to 
children. A poor woman, who understands very well 
that she has no "creative control" over her children's 
lives once they are old enough to walk, can find her¬ 
self again and again in the new little child. Middle- 
class women are encouraged to realize themselves in 
creatively structuring their children's environment; 
they are taught to involve themselves in choosing 
styles of behavior, styles of education. These choices 
(privileges) are contrasted with the obvious control 
poverty has over the behavior and education of poor 
children and are made to seem an essential part of 
being a "good mother". The satisfaction a woman has 
of making some decisions for her children, disguises 
the fact that females have no real power to define 
the conditions of their own and their child's reality; 
these conditions have been brought about and altered 
by fathers and husbands. 

Every woman struggles with the ambivalent way that 
society (i.e. men) sees her? men can not love those 
whom they oppress. The privacy and exclusiveness of 
the middle-class family keep a woman from so easily 
understanding that, no matter how well she can manage 
to arrange for a child, she is subject to the bottom¬ 
less suspicion men have about the "goodness" of those 
whose physical and psychic being they have need to 
exploit. At the same time that certain feminine 
qualities are extravagantly praised, women are blamed 
for society's failure to create healthy children. 


A child is considered to be derived from two par¬ 
ticular people and to have to belong to them unless 
legally adopted by someone else. Society has declared 
the vulnerability and weakness of the infant, but the 
physical protection and consistency of environment 
that are basic conditions for healthy growth have been 
established only in private families. 

Along with real attention, it is assumed that a 
child grows psychologically by accepting or rejecting 
the personal interactions between its parents. Even 
when this imitating of the mother-father model has 
obviously damaged and distorted the child's behavior, 
it is assumed that a better model of parental behavior 
ought to have been provided. It is not considered 
that every mother is affected by her secondary nature 
as female and by her supportive function as wife, 
nurse, maid, babysitter. It is clear that a child 
feels oppressed by all the work that is done for it by 
this one person and by the emotional payment that a 
mother may ask for her security. Her unequal situa¬ 
tion in marriage directly affects the child's feelings 
toward her. The child is not understood to have a 
right to demand of society the type of situation and 
the experience that would insure its health and in¬ 

Within the family, the child is subordinate to the 
father and the mother. It has no independent status, 
except as the parents will grant it the possibility 
to be someone they have not imagined. They have power 
to determine who and what their child is at any moment. 
It is inevitable that a child who wants to protest its 
helplessness must use some form of open rebellion or 
of secret withdrawal. 

This institutionalized dependency of the child 
keeps it close to the parent most directly concerned 
with it - its mother. It is approved for a woman to 
find a new world, an external satisfaction in the 
growing consciousness of her baby. But because this 
maternal affection is historically inseparable from 
the subordination of females to males, and the sub¬ 
ordination of children to adults, for the needs of 
adults, the child is from the very first exploited by 
that affection, which does not acknowledge it to be 
an independent person in its own right. It is no 
accident that women are brutalized by men, and 


children by parents. Affection has been used as power 
and is based on the maintenance of weakness and 
dependency by any means. When "loving" treatment does 
not produce obedience, a beating will. It is neces¬ 
sary for women to become autonomous - not to be used 
and abused by men for their purposes - and not to 
create or dominate children. Children have protested 
individually and suffered isolated deprivation; they 
too have potential collective strength to demand their 
right to physical and mental health. 

Hilary Langhorst 

"Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow 
hips, and are more understanding than women, who have 
but small and narrow chests, and broad hips, to the 
end that they should remain at home, sit still, keep 
house, and bear and bring up children." 

Martin Luther 

"In personal relationships with both women and 
blacks, white men generally prefer a less professional 
and a more human relation, actually a more paternalis¬ 
tic and protective position somewhat in the nature of 
patron to client in roman times, and like the corres¬ 
ponding strongly paternalistic relation of later feu¬ 
dalism. As in Germany it is said that every gentile 
has his pet jew, so it is said in the south that every 
white has his pet black, or in the upper strata, se¬ 
veral of them. We sometimes marry the pet women, 
carrying out the paternalistic scheme. But even if 
we do not, we tend kindly with her as a client and a 
ward, not as a competitor and equal..." 

Alva Myrdal-in An American Dilemma 
Gunnar Myrdal 



The primary reason that we are concerned with the 
development of child-care facilities is that we feel 
there's a desperate necessity for a more humane means 
of raising children in order to free mothers and child¬ 
ren alike. Also, every child must be provided with 
adequate nutritional/ medical and educational facili¬ 
ties. When children are reared privately there is no 
guarantee that these needs will be met. In this "af¬ 
fluent society" too many children aren't even provided 
with basic necessities. Most of the opposition that 
we have received has been concerned that child-care 
centers would deprive children of the individual atten¬ 
tion and love that they so greatly need. Yet although 
the family ideal may have at one time provided for 
these needs, it has no longer been able to fulfill this 

Raising children is the sole occupation of many 
women. This could be an extremely rewarding and crea¬ 
tive occupation if the culture regarded it as such and 
provided facilities to allow the fulfillment of crea¬ 
tive energies. But because women as a group have no 
choice in the raising of children, it thus becoming 
"women's work"/ it has become a degraded occupation. 
Degradation is inherent when one doesn't have a choice. 
Even if women were to overcome the psychological bar¬ 
riers involved in making other choices/ there are no 
alternative institutions for the raising of children. 
Once married/ women begin to feel stranded in a situa¬ 
tion they have no control over. This culture has made 
it extremely difficult for women to choose not to bear 
children/ what with unsafe contraception/ rigid abor¬ 
tion laws and the loathed image of the unfertile woman. 
Raising children can't help but become a resented oc¬ 
cupation when it involves 24 hour a day responsibility. 
A great deal of frustration, anger and creative energy 
with no outlet must be either suppressed or find de¬ 
structive outlets. Under these conditions of implied 
hostility the child does not receive much love and 
affection. Most mothers exert tyrannical authority 
over their children because it's the only form of 
authoritative power they are allowed to hold. The 
child needs individual love and attention. Only in a 
situation where those around her are free to provide 


for these needs/ and have chosen to fulfill this func¬ 
tion because they love children, will the child receive 
this love without conflict. 

In a family situation one also finds that for the 
most part the child is submitted to the whims of the 
one or two parents. If the parents are pre-occupied 
with other problems, in bad spirits or can't give their 
time to the child, she will experience it emotionally 
as a lack of affection or in some cases as outright re¬ 
jection. This can't help but be a destructive situa¬ 
tion. Parents have to be free to place their personal 
needs first. Yet it's only natural that the child re¬ 
act negatively. The only way that the contradiction 
can be resolved is if the child is cared for by more 
people- men and women who have chosen to care for 
children during a portion of their lives as an occupa¬ 
tion that they enjoy and want to learn from while 
teaching others. 

If a child is exposed to more influences than those 
of her parents, she will remain open to different kinds 
of life-styles. It is a great deal more humane to 
provide a child with a greater number of life-styles 
and moralities from which to choose. Obviously, less 
possibilities are offered by two parents who have made 
similar basic choices (or with whom his choice domin¬ 
ates) . Parents have made fundamental choices for their 
children simply by not allowing that other possibili¬ 
ties be available to them. They offer only one or two 
life-styles with which to identify, rather than a wider 
choice or the possibility of identifying with a commun¬ 

Oppression can be defined not only by the inability 
of a group of people to make free choices but also by 
the fact that they are defined by someone other than 
themselves. In this culture, children as well as women 
and blacks are not given the opportunity to define 
themselves. They sense when very young that if they 
don’t accept the definitions of themselves that their 
parents have given them, that they will not receive 
the approbation they so greatly need. Children must 
be presented with a variety of self-definitions from 
which they can choose freely. In this way, the course 
of their maturity will be characterized by their 
efforts toward narrowing many possibilities to those 
they wish to pursue. 


Another argument against child-care centers has been 
that they would deprive the child of needed continuity 
in her life. The assumption is, of course, that the 
continuity provided by her parents is a desirable one. 
The only continuity they provide is in their life 
choices. And we see children all the time fighting 
these choices, attempting to assert other choices, or 
being hurt by their parents' insistence that these 
choices must be followed. Parents' presence provides, 
in a sense, a superficial continuity. Children must 
be encouraged to establish inner continuity based on a 
growing establishment of what they want their lives to 
be. This is only possible if they feel free to do so, 
knowing that the choice hasn't already been made for 

One is often astonished by the insight and frankness 
of very young children. Very often their clear¬ 
headedness can provide humane solutions to seemingly 
complex problems. Children can afford to be open and 
truthful and give conscientious and constructive 
thought to all issues for they have not yet made their 
choices. They are the only group of people who don't 
have vested interests in maintaining things a certain 
way or in seeing things occur in preconceived patterns. 
This becomes clouded because they are pressured to make 
given choices too early, not having gone through the 
processes of self-definition. The pressure arises from 
an intense desire for the approbation of those around 
them. They sense that to receive approbation from 
their parents, they must fulfill their parents' expec¬ 
tations of them. Subconsciously they make fundamental 
choices. If children were instead encouraged to take 
responsibility for their own decisions, they could 
maintain an honest and open evaluation of situations 
confronting them. This could lead to an extraordinary 
process of maturation producing adults concerned with 
establishing the truth, providing for the moral and 
the humane and contributing to the establishment of a 
culture that meets the needs of all. 

It means a great deal to children to be treated "as 
adults". In a child-care center, children and adults 
of all ages could learn from each other. They would 
regard each other as individuals needing varying kinds 
of attentions rather than as persons with pre-conceived 
functions or pre-established needs. Children would 


have as great a voice in determining their futures as 
those around them. In this way, feeling personal res¬ 
ponsibility for their lives, children would be encour¬ 
aged in finding the best possible means of integrating 
their wishes with reality. If this process were en¬ 
couraged in all humans from such an early age, one 
can’t help but envision the development of an extra¬ 
ordinary civilization. 

The idea that children are the future of the couple 
(of the man) and should be the responsibility of the 
couple (the woman) rather than the society as a whole 
serves only men’s interests. In the animal kingdom 
the survival of the species rather than the survival 
of the individual has been nature's ruling concern. 

The young are cared for in the most efficient way pos¬ 
sible and then leave their "parents" to fend for them¬ 
selves. In many "primitive" cultures we see the child¬ 
ren cared for communally-the responsibility as well as 
the rewards of child-rearing belonging to the culture 
as a whole. The importance of the private raising of 
children lies in the services it performs for the male. 
The family institution ensures that men aren't respon¬ 
sible for the drudgery involved in raising kids pri¬ 
vately. Women take care of that. Yet children (most¬ 
ly male children, the more important) are the future 
of the husband—his immortality. That's why they must 
follow his footsteps—carry on his occupation or con¬ 
cern for him. His sons will carry on the "family" 
name—his name. And they will inherit the "family" 
property—mostly his. This insures that man's fear of 
death can be dealt with. He never really dies as long 
as his children are perpetuated in his image. We have 
seen what this security for the male has done for the 
women and children. 

Lisa Leghorn 

February, 1970 

"A true community consists of individuals-not mere 
species members, not couples-respecting each other's 
individuality and privacy, at the same time interact¬ 
ing with each other mentally and emotionally-free spi¬ 
rits in free relation to each other-and co-operating 
with each other to achieve common ends. Traditional¬ 
ists say the basic unit of ’society' is the family? 
'hippies’ say the tribe? no one says the individual." 

Valerie Solanas S.C.U.M. Manifesto 



... never crying, 

everything on her back 

and everything double—a woman*s loti 

N. Panchenko Obeliski 

When most westerners think of Russian women, they 
think either of "unglamorous" Amazons who lay bricks 
and drive tractors, or of wistful creatures, tenta¬ 
tively tasting the first fruits of Western wickedness— 
lipstick and miniskirts—and yearning for more. Either 
image reflects the preconceptions of the almost exclu¬ 
sively male western press corps through whose eyes we 
see Soviet society. 

The reality, of course, is quite different. As in 
all socialist countries, women have been freed from 
constant preoccupation with maternity and child care 
by free health care, including abortions, day care 
centers, and paid maternity leaves. But this alone, 
is not enough. 

Women must play a free and equal part in the pro¬ 
ductive labor of a society. There must be an end to 
the oppressive dominance of woman by man. 

Communist ideology has always strongly emphasized 
the importance of this. "The social progress of any 
country can be measured by the condition of its women", 
said Marx. And his words were echoed by Lenin in his 
pamphlet "Women and Society": "The proletariat cannot 
achieve complete freedom, unless it achieves complete 
freedom for women." 

Thus, for women, the Russian Revolution (which began 
on International Women’s Day) was a double revolution, 
for it opened up the possibility of a radical change 
in their status, a real attempt to achieve full equal, 

Right after the Bolshevik Revolution, a sweeping 
attack on all aspects of inequality was made. The 
patriarchal family structure was a main target. Laws 
decreed equal employment rights for women, and the 
needs of pregnant women, and women with many children 
were provided for. Legal abortion became a reality in 
1920. And the government sought to shift primary re- 


sponsibility for child care and domestic chores from 
the individual woman to communal facilities. Experi¬ 
ments with communal dining were common. 

In the 1930*5, under Stalin, some of these gains 
were wiped away. There was new emphasis on the family 
—part of the general paternalism of the Stalin era. 

A government decree in 1936 made abortions illegal, and 
tightened up requirements for both marriage and divor¬ 
ce. The Family Law of 1944 continued the move in this 
direction, by giving legal sanction only to registered 
marriages, outlawing paternity suits (marking a revival 
of the notion of illegitimacy), making divorce subject 
to costly and complicated judicial procedures, glori¬ 
fying motherhood (the Hero Mothers), and taxing all 
unmarried persons of childbearing age, or married 
people with small families. 

In the post-Stalin period, there has been some im¬ 
provement. Soon after Khrushchev took power, abortions 
were legalized again, and the tax on unmarrieds and 
parents of small families was abolished. In 1968, 
divorce procedures for childless couples were immensely 
simplified, though they remain complex for couples with 

But law is only part of the picture. Since the 
Revolution, women have participated in almost every 
important sector of Soviet life. Today 73% of all 
doctors, 60% of all economists and statisticians, 67% 
of all teachers and 30% of all engineers are women. 
Soviet women make up 56% of all agricultural workers 
and 48% of all non-agricultural workers. 

Still, problems remain. Most positions of leader¬ 
ship are held by men. The prestige professions— 
physics, surgery, college teaching, the upper echelons 
of the party—are male-dominated. The patriarchal 
family structure remains. Although in most families, 
both the mother and father work, household chores are 
still considered the responsibility of the woman. And 
these chores take a far greater amount of time than 
they do in the West, for Russian women don’t have ac¬ 
cess to supermarkets or the vast range of household 
conveniences developed to pacify the American housewife. 

Child rearing is also considered a primarily female 
task. Day care centers are staffed almost exclusively 
by women. And there have even been articles suggesting 
that women ought to be paid to be mothers—to stay home 


and raise children as a means of combatting the low 
Soviet birth rate. V. Perevedintsev, writing in the 
Literaturnaya Gazeta , the newspaper of the Soviet 
Writer*s Union/ provoked a storm of debate over such 
a suggestion. 

Many women wrote in to protest. This excerpt from 
a letter by C. Berezovskaya/ a lawyer, criticizes the 
dual role that Soviet women are supposed to play. In¬ 
stead of removing women from the labor force, why not 
probe other alternatives, she asks: 

why leave out such a perfectly realistic, just 
solution, one requiring no additional state ex¬ 
penditure, and providing an outlet for reserve 
labor, as having men take upon themselves half 
the household duties now considered woman's work? 
Perhaps then, these chores will stop being so 
overwhelming. Life today is sufficiently mech¬ 
anized that, given the division of labor in half, 
it wouldn't be that difficult to handle. And 
the psychological feeling of humiliation and 
second-rateness so common to women would no longer 
be there. Why so lightly dismiss this option in 
all the discussion about the participation of 
women in the life of our society? 

With the ratio between men and women becoming more 
equal (in 1959, there were 20 million more women than 
men in the Soviet Union—the result of enormous World 
War II losses) , it is clear that there will be further 
attacks on the position of women in Soviet society. 

It is also clear that Soviet women will not give up 
their productive role without a fight. This is evident 
from the angry response to the Perevedintsev article. 

What, then, is the situation of Soviet women over 
50 years after the Revolution? Although the gap be¬ 
tween ideology and reality is great, there is no ques¬ 
tion but that the Russians are better off than their 
American counterparts. The fact that most work means 
that they are not caught in the bind of the traditional 
American housewife, not forced to identify themselves 
solely as Mother. Nor are they like American single 
girls, for they do not define themselves in terms of 
some present or future dream man. The Soviet women I 
met had a sense of themselves rare in American women. 


Many were living separately from their husbands in 
order to pursue their careers. Others challenged 
traditional notions of the family by having children 
out of wedlock and raising them themselves. 

The women bricklayers in the Soviet Union then, 
are hardly symbols of oppression. The real oppression 
lies in the stereotype of woman as weak and helpless, 
unfit for hard work (unless she is poor or black), and 
it is against this that women everywhere must fight. 


A peculiar condition of women is that their environ¬ 
ment has been almost wholly that of the home; and the 
home is the most ancient of human institutions; the 
most unalterably settled in its ideals and convictions; 
the slowest and last to move...The world of science 
and invention may change; art, religion, government 
may change; industry, commerce and manufacturing may 
change; but women and the home are supposed to remain 
as they are, forever...The economic position of women 
in the world heretofore has been that of the domestic 
servant...Domestic service is the lowest grade of 
labor remaining extant. It belongs to an earlier so¬ 
cial era... It is a low position in this mighty world 
so complex and stirring, so full of noble activities, 
to earn no higher place than was open to the slave of 
countless centuries ago, but it is a far lower posi¬ 
tion to be fed and clothed as a sex-dependent, a crea¬ 
ture without economic usefulness. This economic de¬ 
pendence is the underlying ground of the helplessness 
of women...No human creatures can be free whose bread 
is in other hands than theirs. 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman 

Economic Basis of the Woman Question, 1898 



Part II—Marriage 

The women's magazines are full of advice on how a 
woman can be successful as a woman. This means as a 
wife, as a mother, as a cook, as a seamstress, as an 
attractive female. 

Perhaps the most important concern to the reader is 
her marriage, and almost as many articles are devoted 
to telling her how to save or improve her marriage and 
keep her man interested and at home as are devoted to 

The quantity alone of this advice says something 
about the political situation men and women find them¬ 
selves in. There is no comparable volume of litera¬ 
ture instructing men in how to hold on to their wives, 
how to protct their wives' egos, how to remain sexually 
attractive, how to remain interesting. 

It is not regarded, for instance, as a disaster if 
the husband arrives home from work tired and grumpy, 
but rather a sign of how hard he has worked for his 
wife . She, grateful, must rush to soothe him, fix him 
a drink, help him relax, and feed him, hopefully pro¬ 
tecting him from screaming kids as well as all other 
problems until he is refreshed. 

The wife, however, is warned never to greet her 
husband at the end of the day tired and grumpy, how¬ 
ever bad her day has been. Husbands are bored with 
wives' trivial daily problems and are annoyed to have 
them imposed on them. 

But after all, why should she protect him from 
screaming kids? It is she who has been locked up with 
them all day! 

It turns out that a wife's duty is not just to run 
the house, cook, clean, bear and care for the children, 
and make the home a cozy haven for the man, but to 
build up his ego. 


An article by James Lincoln Collier in Woman's Day 
in October 1969, entitled "Your Happiness and Your 
Husband's Ego" discusses this. Its title alone says 
it all, and the implications are appal] ing. You can 
not be happy unless your husband's ego is puffed up, 


according to the glib logic of the author, so if it 
comes to a clash between your ego and his, yours must 
be sacrificed because that is the only way you can be 

This article was reprinted in Reader 1 s Digest in 

January 1970 under the even less subtle title, M How to 
Support Your Husband's Ego" 

One would think that men would be embarrassed to 
see those words in big letters on the flyer glued to 
the cover, staring out from all the newsstands. This 
casual acceptance of the should-be-insulting idea that 
men's egos are such weak, fragile, pathetic things 
they have to be supported ! The admission that they 
would fall apart without the artificial aid of wives 
following explicit rules from the magazines! And 
women believe that it is true, too, as documented in 
an amazing article in Redbook magazine, in April, 1968, 
called "Why Wives Lie to their Husbands". 

"Your Happiness and Your Husband's Ego" begins with 
the story of a woman who went back to work with her 
husband's approval. Their marriage subsequently began 
to deteriorate rapidly. He became irritable and re¬ 
fused to lift a finger to help her. He was suffering, 
according to the marriage counsellor, from a "severely 
damaged male ego". 

Even though he had agreed intellectually to his 
wife's return to work, he couldn't accept it emotion¬ 
ally. Fortunately, according to the author, Janet was 
able to recognize and correct the situation in time. 
"Correct" here apparently means quitting her job. 

But it turns out even the husbands of stay-at-home 
wives have ego problems. It is a tough world they 
work in out there ("today's complex and competitive 
society") and "the average man is subject to continu¬ 
ous assaults upon his masculinity." Then comes an 
amazing statement. "Wives have their ego problems too, 
but many authorities believe that the male's is far 
more vulnerable." We needn't bother to inquire into 
the sex of those authorities. The author continues: 

"In our society men set out every morning to walk a 
tightrope over an abyss of failure." 

The responsibility is placed on the nature of 
society, and the implication is that it is a natural 
misfortune like droughts and floods. It isn't. 

In the first place, this society the author speaks 


of is a male society, and the competition a male 
culture ethic, so that it is fair to say that men are 
setting up these impossible standards for themselves. 
Second, it isn't nearly as bad as he describes, and 
he exaggerates the suffering of the men in it: if it 
were that bad it would be changed. On the whole, how¬ 
ever, men accept it. Sometimes they get ulcers, true, 
but they also have the challenge and the exhilaration 
of it and the rewards of success, material and status. 
If the game weren't worth it, they would change the 

Third, the individual really defines failure, and 
the "assaults on his masculinity" are his inability 
to be as successful as he would like to be. Why 
shouldn't he change his attitude, instead of women 
changing theirs and sacrificing themselves? Why 
should the woman in the opening story have to quit 
her job? Why isn't the advice given that the man is 
neurotic, unable to adjust to reality, his development 
arrested in a childish state where "mother" exists 
only for him and he is jealous and sulks if she has 
any other interests? Why isn't the man sent for 

In the case of "Your Happiness and Your Husband's 
Ego" it was pretended (by the writer, a "happily mar¬ 
ried" male free-lance writer), that Janet quitting her 
job was a very simple and mutually acceptable solu¬ 
tion to the problem. But this ignores any factors 
which must have existed to make her go back to work in 
the first place. 

She may have been bored or oppressed at home, she 
may have needed challenge, a sense of identity larger 
than that afforded through her "family", something 
that was meaningful in the society at large. She may 
have wanted financial independence, or at least an end 
to the suffocating feeling of having to beg for every 
penny from her husband and to feel guilty if she 
spends too much...even on the house (for which, as 
Ellen Willis points out, she is merely a purchasing 
agent) or on her appearance (which, again, is not mere 
vanity but part of her job as a female and essential 
(she has been taught by these same magazines) if she 
wants to hold on to her husband) . 

But Mr. Collier, viewing marriage serenely from an 
exclusively male point of view, does not even mention 


these possible feelings on Janet's part. It was just 
taken for granted that if Tom didn't want her working, 
even subconsciously, below his rational level, even 
neurotically, then rather than him dealing with his 
selfish, egocentric, childish impulses, it was entire¬ 
ly appropriate for Janet to make the sacrifice. You 
can't be happy unless your husband is, Collier says 
(convenient that the husband's feelings come first in 
this construction), but he doesn't deal with the prob¬ 
lem that if too much is sacrificed to the husband, 
the wife may be condemned to unhappiness because of 
what she's given up, however sweet the husband may act 
to her once she has gone back to being the agreeable, 
self-sacrificing stay-at-home wife he wanted. 

Collier pretends he has a solution by ignoring the 
needs, feelings, personality, will and soul of the 
wife. Other articles, however are sometimes directed 
specifically at wives' problems and at least discuss 
them. They don't do as convincing a job of presenting 

Marriage advice from women's magazines is most not¬ 
able for its barrenness. These articles frequently 
gain the reader's initial interest by admitting that 
there is a problem (or rather, referring to a problem 
the reader is already familiar with) then proceeding 
to discuss it at length without offering any solu¬ 
tions . 

It is surprising in fact that they can continue to 
apply the same barren tools of analysis to the prob¬ 
lems in article after article without finding a solu¬ 
tion. When will they learn that a new approach, a new 
analysis is necessary? 

One concept taken for granted, at least on the 
magazine covers where it will tempt women to buy the 
magazine in search of realistic advice instead of rosy 
platitudes, is the concept of the "trapped" housewife. 
The extent to which this is taken for granted was il¬ 
lustrated one month when Reader's Digest advertized 
"Occupation Housewife: Trap or Opportunity?", Fami ly 
Circle advertized "How to Escape that Trapped Feeling" 
and Redbook advertized "A Young Mother's Story: Why I 
Like Feeling Trapped." 


The August 1969 issue of Family Circle advertizes 


on the cover "How to Escape that Trapped Feeling." 

It is excerpted from the book "How to Stay Married" by 
Norman M. Lobsenz and Clark W. Blackburn. Mr. Black¬ 
burn is general director of Family Service Association 
of America. 

The authors begin by admitting that the "trapped" 
feeling is very real for many wives. Many women, they 
say/ are separated from friends and family/ tied down 
with young children/ overwhelmed by the duties of wife 
and mother and isolated from the outside adult world, 
often without a car and far from mass transportation, 
with husbands who are often away on business or work¬ 
ing late at night. 

The authors go on: "Many of today's wives grew up 
thinking they would combine marriage with other ac¬ 
complishments. But children are more demanding than 
had been expected, life in the suburbs is less reward¬ 
ing, and marriage is not quite so egalitarian as had 
been anticipated. Life suddenly becomes sterile.... 

The role of wife and mother may be glorified official¬ 
ly, but it is not all that exalting for a woman who 
has prepared herself for something more or has experi¬ 
enced satisfactions outside of home life. Today's 
young woman is encouraged to be competitive and inde¬ 
pendent, to use her mind and strive for achievement. 

Yet when she marries this same girl is expected to 
unlearn much of this and become a well-adjusted, non¬ 
competitive housewife and mother who derives her 
principal pleasures from these roles. Many women find 
this reversal difficult. They protest that their minds 
are atrophying, that they did not need a college edu¬ 
cation to scrub floors, wash dishes, change diapers, 
leave notes for the milkman, pay the newsboy, and chit¬ 
chat with the neighbors. There is a yearning for 
something more—and a guilt over not being fulfilled. 

I ought to be happy, they say. What's wrong with me 
that I'm not?" 

So far he has drawn a picture all the trapped house¬ 
wives can identify with. Now that we're hooked 
(Finally! Someone who really understands!) the authors 
proceed to discuss the solutions. They begin by say¬ 
ing we should admit this dissatisfaction without feel¬ 
ing guilty, so we will be freer to "explore other 
interests", rather than letting the disillusionment 
and guilt be "projected" (their word) "into jealousy 


of the husband's freedom, his chance to move ahead 
while they are stuck in a rut." 

Other interests—what do they mean by that? We 
find out. Civic activities to "help relieve feelings 
of •uselessness 1 ." A bookrack over the sink so you 
can read while doing dishes. Play classical records 
while you do your housework, thus giving yourself a 
first-rate musical education. Sell herbs you- raise in 
your garden. 

There is no mention of a meaningful life-plan, let 
alone a career; no suggestion of any kind of activity 
that demands commitment. 

After pointing out the things we could be doing if 
we looked around, they continue: "Another fact many 
•trapped wives* blind themselves to is that their hus¬ 
bands are not having a marvelous time during the day." 
They quote a male executive of the Family Service 
Agency on how wives don't understand how hard it is 
for a man to go to work every day, and what kind of 
competition they're up against. Then they say (this 
is the punch line) "Paradoxically, women who have 
worked seem to be even less understanding of the 
strains on men." 

Paradoxically indeed! So, is this all a joke? No, 
as a matter of fact they are perfectly serious. We 
are supposed to swallow that it is a paradox. They 
proceed to justify the statement by quoting from 
another counselor: "'For the most part, these women 
worked for a few years at a pleasant and not very de¬ 
manding job that was a stopgap. Advancement was not 
an important issue. 1 " Stopgap, dead-end jobs, however, 
are very rarely pleasant, and no pressure-no advance¬ 
ment means there was no challenge. It's challenge 
and the rewards of recognition and advancement that 
make careers exciting and rewarding. Any woman who 
worked at a stopgap dead-end job and is more bored at 
home would be even more dissatisfied if she had worked 
at a challenging career about which she really cared, 
in a field that caught her interest or imagination, 
where she made a difference and was appreciated for 
her unique abilities. 

Lobsenz and Blackburn then suggest that there be 
more communication between husbands and wives. This 
is the standard advice. It makes it a personal prob¬ 
lem rather than a social one. Wives should discuss 


"their problem" with their husbands, and the husbands 
should be "understanding." The husbands should notice 
details about her housekeeping and praise her for it. 
"This automatically makes a wife's routine tasks and 
small triumphs more interesting to her." 

He can talk to her about his co-workers and his 
work. ("The wife of a scientist complained that when 
they were first married she worked closely with him on 
his doctoral thesis but that 'he acts now as if I don't 
know a test tube from a Bunsen burner.'") 

Finally, the husband can "take a hard look into why 
he is pouring himself so intensively into his work" and 
consider whether he needs to work late and weekends so 
often or take so many trips. If he's not really enjoy¬ 
ing it, he should consider whether he might spend some 
of that time at home. 

In short, although the article was called "How to 
Escape that Trapped Feeling", and although the authors 
pretend to be offering solutions, the woman is left 
with nothing. Her failure is her own fault, either her 
personal laziness and lack of imagination (she didn't 
build the bookrack over the sink) or her personal mis¬ 
fortune in not having a more "understanding" husband. 

Faced with all this wasted talent, all this suffer¬ 
ing and frustration, all these crippled lives, the best 
the authors can suggest is that wives ask their hus¬ 
bands to be more "understanding" of their own adjust¬ 
ment problem. 

The possibility that the family structure itself is 
oppressive, that to expect women to live such lives is 
monstrous, is never considered. The rightness of it 
is taken for granted. 

And women despair, because even knowing the worst 
of it (as these men seem to) the experts can only 
suggest a bookrack over the sink. If that is the 

case, then it really must be* hopeless. 


Another example of the technique of gaining the 
reader's interest (and selling the magazine) by adver¬ 
tizing something in the way of a new, honest analysis 
which takes into account the realities of sexual 
politics was offered by Ladies Home Journal in October 

Its cover promised, "How to Make Your Husband Fight 


Fair". I felt a wave of excitement when I saw it. At 
last! I thought^ as I'm sure many other women did. An 
article about the special things men do, the unfair 
ways of fighting that husbands use against wives: the 
intellectual intimidation/ the implied physical threats 
that cut off discussion/ the implied or explicit threat 
of desertion that wives are so much more intimidated 

Maybe even, on a deeper, more subtle level/ the 
article would include a discussion of the different 
self-imposed limits; there are many things that a 
woman will never say to a man, no matter how angry or 
how desperate, things that she knows would never be 
forgiven and would drive him into a violent rage. But 
men will say almost anything to a'woman and she lives 
with it/ just as she lives with being humiliated in 
public or at parties in ways that it would be unthink¬ 
able for a woman to humiliate a man. (It's called 
"castrating" the man; the woman has been "put down" or 
"shut up" or "put in her place" or "joked about" or 
"criticized" or "corrected" or "teased.") Often the 
blame falls entirely on the woman when she is humili¬ 
ated. She was talking too much/ acting like a know-it- 
all/ whatever. 

But inside it turned out the article had nothing to 
do with how to make your husband fight fair. It was 
about how husbands and wives / and since it was a 
woman 1 s magazine and so presumably it was women who 
were reading the article, how wives should fight fair, 
specifically by "leveling" with each other about what 
is bugging them, instead of fighting about substitute 

It was a fairly interesting article, but because of 
the fact that it took the political status quo for 
granted and worked within that the result was at best 
a reduction in misunderstandings, the sort of misunder¬ 
standings that resulted in Janet and Tom fighting about 
everything but the fact that he felt castrated by her 
going back to work with the resulting almost-breakup 
of their marriage. 

If they had studied this article (actually an 
excerpt from a book) Tom would have been able to 
explain what was bugging him instead of sulking and 
picking on her about little things and then Janet 
could have quit her job right away and saved the whole 


family much tension. 

In other cases it is conceivable that it could be 
dangerous for a wife to "level" with her husband. 
Unless he can be depended upon to always fight 
completely fair (and how many can be depended upon 
when they regard any infringements on their privileges 
as castration?) any information about where her soft 
underbelly lies could later be used against her. 

The authors of'this article meant well/ and they 
had some good insights, but as long as the political 
status quo is accepted as just and appropriate we can 
never achieve truly honest/ creative/ meaningful 
relations between men and women: we can never even 
have mutually respectful and loving relationships. 

Dana Densmore 
January/ 1970 

You have heard that old joke — the three fastest 
forms of communication known to man are: telephone/ 
telegraph and tell a woman. Ha. Ha. 

Well/ it's no joke. That's exactly how we'll get 
the word around. With our millions/ we can out-mass 
the mass media. 

Since every woman has the evidence already (in her 
daily life)/ she only needs to know that other women 
are finally on the move to take equality for them¬ 
selves. The men who kept us isolated and neutralized 
by name-calling (manhater/ bitch/ un-feminine, lesbian, 
etc. etc.) whenever we complained of their unequal 
treatment, lose their power when we laugh at that 
trick. And we can laugh when we know so many others 
are laughing at it, too. 

Yes, tell a woman. She'll know what you're talking 
about, and she'll tell another woman. The message is 
simple: we are no longer alone. 

Donna Allen 
March 1970 



The abortion laws disregard the fact that they are 
dealing with responsible human beings, that are sup¬ 
posed to no longer be chattels, but accorded the dig¬ 
nity of the law. As mature human beings, women should 
have the right to decide for themselves whether or not 
they should terminate a specific pregnancy. Women al¬ 
ready have this responsibility, but are forced to 
carry it out illegally, if considered necessary. This 
right should be theirs legally. 

There are already laws covering operations in gen¬ 
eral (a person under 21 needs consent, etc.) and these 
provide more than adequate coverage in the instances 
of abortion. Mature legal considerations should in¬ 
dicate to legislators, not liberalization of existing 
abortion laws, but the complete abolition of such laws. 

Each woman must decide for herself. No law is 
going to force anyone to have an abortion, but those 
who don't want an abortion should not be allowed to 
force their decision on others. 

As the law now stands, it serves to discriminate 
against the poor and non-white woman. For example, 

90% of the legal therapeutic abortions performed in 
hospitals in New York in the last twenty years were 
performed on white women, while criminal abortions 
accounted for a disproportionately higher number of 
•deaths among the underprivileged. This goes to prove 
the important point of how the law reflects whose in¬ 
terests are of primary importance, how these interests 
are furthered and protected by the law. That laws 
serve only men and the well-off is abundantly clear. 

It is equally clear that women get abortions 
whether they are legal or not. The law just makes 
more women get criminal rather than legal abortions, 
and many women die at the hands of untrained abor¬ 
tionists. 10,000 to 18,000 legal abortions are per¬ 
formed in hospitals every year. But 20 to 30 times 
that many are performed illegally. If these laws 
are supposed to be humanitarian, and one of the con¬ 
siderations taken into account when deciding for a 
legal abortion is if the woman's life will be in dan¬ 
ger without one, then the fact that a woman's life 
will be endangered in the hands of an illegal abor¬ 
tionist doesn't keep hospitals from turning women 



When the question of abortion arises, the public 
looks to the professions of religion, law and medicine 
to supply them with, or to impose their answers on 
them. This is a completely unrealistic attitude. 

Women are the only ones truly concerned with abortion; 
for us it can be a matter of life or death, physical 
and psychological suffering, and slavery to laws we 
had no choice in making. True, doctors can be punished 
for performing "illegal" abortions, but the penalty for 
women can be death. 

Taking a closer look at these professional author¬ 
ities, we might ask how they can represent women, and 
how good their moral judgement is. Doctors certainly 
don't even have equal representation of women in their 
ranks, and as a group they are noted for their self- 
centeredness ? the same can be said even more vehemently 
about law-makers. 

The hierarchy of the church has never been charac¬ 
terized as having a compassionate view of women? it is 
also completely dominated by males. The church speaks 
of the sanctity of life after its long history of cru¬ 
sades, inquisitions, pograms, genocide and witch bur¬ 
nings. A more recent occurrence in history which can 
testify to their moral veracity was the discovery of 
anaesthetics. In that situation the position of the 
church was that women were supposed to suffer in child¬ 
birth to atone for the sins of Eve, and to relieve the 
suffering of childbirth with anaesthesia was to disobey 
a biblical injunction. The view that women are innately 
evil and must be punished for their sins - how does 
this affect the church's stance on abortion? All these 
things are part of the political history of women. We 
want freedom of choice, right now!!! 

Betsy Warrior 

"Were our state a pure democracy, there would still 
be excluded from our deliberations .. .women , who, to 
prevent depravation of morals and ambiguity of issues, 
should not mix promiscuously in gatherings of men." 

Thomas Jefferson 



We human beings are not creatures who spring 
from the earth, our integrity round and tight, our 
will free and objective. We are not only influenced 
by what goes on around us, we are conditioned and 
created by it. 

Desires and even needs can be created. We are all 
familiar with the ingenious techniques of Madison 
Avenue to generate insecurity in order to offer their 
product or service as a means of assuaging the in¬ 
security. The most effective techniques zero in on 
our fears of not being socially acceptable, not being 
loved, not being sexually attractive. 

The seeds of this insecurity exist already in a 
society whose ideology of individualism isolates 
people and throws the blame for all maladjustment and 
failure onto the individual. 

We constantly hear the variations on this theme. 

It is used to avoid admitting that anything could be 
wrong with the way our society is set up. "If you 
can't make a satisfactory adjustment to life, it's 
your own problem: perhaps some professional help is in 
order." "Don't try to change the world—you'd better 
free your mind instead." 

And we hear it thrown at us in response to the 
threat of female liberation. "You should be_ intimi¬ 
dated by being put down by men." " Leave your family 
if it's so oppressive." "If you don’t like the way 
your lover treats you, you can get out of bed." "It's 
your own fault if you don't get good jobs—you let 
yourself be discouraged, you took the unchallenging, 
'feminine' courses of study in school." 

The assumption implicit in all these things is the 
individualist ideology that if you are unable to do 
something which is theoretically possible (or which is 
thought to be theoretically possible) it is because of 
a personal hang-up and consequently you have no legit¬ 
imate gripe. 

This isolates people and tends to make them in¬ 
secure and unself-confident. They often can be 
brought to despise themselves because they see in 
themselves so many supposed weaknesses and psycholog¬ 
ical problems that prevent them from being happy, 
well-adjusted, and effective. This is a character- 


istic of our society and isolates all of us, not just 
the women. (However, women, being the most oppressed, 
are forced to blame themselves the most for their 
impotence and thus despise themselves the most and are 
most isolated and afraid and anxious that no one will 
love them.) 

The very isolation the individualist ideology 
imposes makes us desire even more to be loved and 
accepted, and fear even more being unlovable 

But we cannot escape our fears of being unlovable 
"Who would want me?" we ask. "I have all these hang¬ 
ups ." 

A man knows he's not a "real man". He can't ad¬ 
just to his role, either: he's afraid of women. As 
real people with free will capable of challenging his 
right to rule (and thus his virility) , they are 
threatening, castrating. 

A woman may know she's unwomanly, neurotic and 
selfish: sometimes she feels trapped and hates her 

The solution offered to all this is often to open 
yourself up until you can merge selflessly with 
another person. In many cases it is explicitly sex. 
But the solutions all point to sex one way or another. 
Sex becomes magic, assumes a life of its own, making 
anything interesting, everything worthwhile. It's 
for this that we spend these hours trying on micro- 
dresses, loading up with jingle jangle chains, smooth¬ 
ing on lacy white stockings and Instant Glow Face 

It is this that many girls who would be most free 
to fight in the female liberation struggle are squan¬ 
dering valuable energy pursuing as an indispensible 
part of their lives. They lavish and dissipate their 
valuable time and talents and emotional strength on 
attempts to be attractive to men and to work things 
out with lovers so that "love" might be less degrad¬ 
ing. And too often all they reap is demoralization, 
damaged egos, emotional exhaustion. 

Under the banner of "not denying our sexuality", 
and pointing to repression in the past when women 
were denied the right to any pleasure in their bodies 
at all, many of us now embrace sexuality and its ex¬ 
pression completely uncritically. As if present excess 
could make up for past deprivation. As if even total 


sexual fulfillment would change anything. Except... 
is this true?—except private dead-of-the-night fears 
that maybe we really are the sexually frustrated 
neurotic freaks our detractors accuse us of being. 

Are we chasing sexual fulfillment so earnestly because 
we have to prove that our politics are not just a 
result of our needing a good fuck? 

Then there is the issue of orgasms. Among those 
who were never well-adjusted and womanly enough to 
psych themselves into an orgasm while being vaginally 
stimulated by a man, there are some who, when they 
discover that their shame and misery was not only not 
unique but in fact extremely common and due to very 
straight-forward, anatomical causes, react to this 
discovery by feeling that they must make it all up by 
demanding all the physical fulfillment they had been 
providing the men all along and missing themselves. 

What we lost wasn't just X* many instances of 
physical pleasure. The suffering that countless women 
have endured because they were told that if they didn't 
have vaginal orgasms they were frigid—that they were 
neurotic and selfish and unwomanly and sexually mal¬ 
adjusted and unable to let go and give and secretly 
resented the power of their husbands and envied men— 
this suffering is staggering and heartbreaking. 

The best analysis and rebuttal of this evil fraud, 
this crippling delusion that routinely sacrifices the 
happiness of one sex to the vanity of the other, is 
Anne Koedt's article "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm." 
Every woman should read Anne's paper over and over 
until that vicious, pervasive ideology of oppression 
is purged forever. 

The liberation of sexual equality and the right to 
sexual pleasure is the solution for the future. But 
is there any solution for the past? Is it a solution 
to go out and collect orgasms in order to make up for 
all those frustrated, self-loathinq years? 

I say you can never make up for all that suffering, 
and certainly not through a mere physical sensation. 

And as for the psychological rewards of getting my 
due at last, I can feel no triumph in that, especially 
when I'm still fighting the old habits and old guilts 
that remain long after the intellect and the will have 
plunged on. 

The worst part about it is that even with perfect 


sexual fulfillment, mutual guilt-free pleasure, we are 
still oppressed. After all, some women managed to 
have vaginal orgasm all along, and they were still 
oppressed; in fact, that was how you were supposed to 
achieve orgasms, by surrendering completely to the 
man's will, by loving being a woman and everything 
that implied. 

Sexual relations in the world today (and perhaps in 
all past ages) are oppressive. The fact that your 
lover gives you an orgasm changes only one small part 
of that oppression (namely the part that dictated that 
you had to see yourself as a creature who was allowed 
only the muted, sensuous, semi-masochistic pleasure of 
getting fucked and never the direct active transcend¬ 
ent pleasure of orgasm). 

If that were the only injustice, or even the major 
injustice, done us, we would be very well off indeed. 

In fact, we would probably be able to bear it without 
concern, certainly without misery and self-loathing. 

It's the general oppression and degradation we suffer 
in the world that causes us to be humiliated in the 
sex act, as Simone de Beauvoir points out. If it 
weren't for the sense of inadequacy and impotency we 
learn from all other aspects of our lives, we would 
kick our lover out of bed if he was arrogant, incon¬ 
siderate, or ungentle. 

Some men do the dinner dishes every night. That 
doesn't make their wives free. On the contrary, it's 
just one more thing she has to feel grateful to him 
for. He, in the power and glory of his maleness, 
condescended to do something for her. It will never 
mean more than that until the basic power relations 
are changed. 

As long as men are the superior caste and hold the 
political power in the class relationship between men 
and women, it will be a favor your lover is doing you, 
however imperiously you demand it. And beyond that 
one thing, nothing else need have changed. 

But the issue isn't just orgasm. We weren't even 
allowed to engage in sexual intercourse without giving 
up social dignity and the respect of men. We weren't 
allowed to love, to make love, to enjoy making love, 
even with our husbands . Husbands were commanded to 
love their wives, wives to obey their husbands. It 
was cruel and insufferably hypocritical. 


But whatever we were denied in the past, it cannot 
he argued that access to sexual pleasure is denied to 
us now. Our "right" to enjoy our own bodies has not 
only been bestowed upon us. It is almost a duty. In 
fact, thincrs have been turned around to the point 
where the "fact" (actually a smear devise) that we do 
not engage in sex is whispered about and used by men 
to discourage "their" women from having anything to do 
with us. This is one development that makes me laugh 
out loud whenever I think about it. What would "Ask 
Beth" think about that! How can men pull this off 
with a straight face? They must be terrified indeed 
at the thought of losing their power to define what is 
proper for proper women. (For that power is exactly 
what we are challenging.) 

The right that is a duty. Sexual freedom that in¬ 
cludes no freedom to decline sex, to decline to be 
defined at every turn by sex. Sex becomes a religion, 
existing independently of the individuals who share 
its particular physical consummation. The media 
totally bombard us with it. 

Sex is everywhere. It's forced down our throats. 
It's the great sop that keeps us in our place. The 
big lift that makes our dreary worlds interesting. 
Everywhere we are sexual objects, and our own enjoy¬ 
ment just enhances our attractiveness. We are wanton. 
We wear miniskirts and see-through tops. We're sexy. 
We're free. We run around and hop into bed whenever 
we please. 

This is the self-image we have built up in us by 
advertising and the media. It's self-fulfilling. And 
very, profitable. It keeps us in our place and feeling 
lucky about it (the freedom to consume, consume, 
consume, until we swallow the world). It makes us 
look as if we're free and active (actively, freely, 
we solicit sex from men). 

And people seem to believe that sexual freedom (even 
when it is only the freedom to actively offer oneself 
as a willing object) is freedom. When men say to us, 
"But aren't you already liberated?", what they mean 
is, "We said it was okay for you to let us fuck you, 
that guilt was neurotic, that chaste makes waste? 
you're already practically giving it away on the 
street, what more do you want or could you stomach?" 

The unarticulated assumption behind this misunder- 


standing is that women are purely sexual beings, bodies 
and sensuality, fucking machines. Therefore freedom 
for women could only mean, sexual freedom. 

Spiritual freedom, intellectual freedom, freedom 
from invasions of privacy and the insults of degrading 
stereotypes, these are appropriate only to men, who 
care about such things and could appreciate them. 

Woman, remember, is a sexual being, soft, emotional, 
expressive, giving, close to the earth, physical, im¬ 
prisoned by the frightening disgusting delicious all 
too perishable flesh. For such a creature to presume 
upon the territory of transcendence is horrifying, 
unthinkable, polluting the high, pure realms of the 
will and spirit, where we rise above the flesh. 

Unfortunately, the oppressed often adopt the 
psychoses of the ruling class, transformed, sometimes, 
until they seem no longer vicious and intellectually 
dishonest projections but a reasonable acceptance of 
reality (and for the oppressed, reality is^ in a sense 
what the ruling class believes) . 

So we recognize that we have something of an 
intellect, and perhaps even use it openly with toler¬ 
ant or sophisticated men. But we still recognize that 
insofar as we are also women , we are soft, emotional, 
expressive, giving, close to the earth, ruled at times 
by our sensuality, our profound, undeniable sexuality. 

There are rewards for us in this. In losing our¬ 
selves in sexual surrender we bring that masterful, 
rational, hard, unemotional analytical man to abject, 
total, frenzied need of the flesh he likes to fancy 
himself above. And there is no question that sexual 
love for a woman contains as a strong component the 
desire to become powerful by merging with the powerful. 
She sees herself as impotent and ineffectual, him as 
masterful and competent. She longs for that sense of 
competence and the confidence that comes to him from 
knowing it's "his world". In the intimacy and 
ecstasy of sex she seeks to lose herself, become one 
with him. 

Children who are told over and over that they are 
liars or thieves become liars or thieves. People who 
are told over and over that they are crazy become 
crazy. If you are told over and over that you are a 
being who has profound sexual needs the odds are very 
good that you will discover that you do. Particularly 


when other outlets are forbidden or discouraged. Par¬ 
ticularly when it is emphasized that those who do not 
feel these needs are frigid, neurotic, sexually mal¬ 
adjusted (which for a woman means essentially malad¬ 
justed) , dried up, barren, to be pitied. 

This stereotype too is self-fulfilling. A woman 
who cannot enjoy sex, for whatever reason (her husband, 
it may be, is repulsive to her either because of his 
style as a lover or because of the contempt with which 
he treats her out of bed), may become bitter believing 
she is missing her womanly fulfillment, the great 
soul-shaking pleasure that would make the rest of the 
misery of being a woman worthwhile. 

It's useless to claim that we aren't programmed to 
desire sex, to reach for it, to need it. Even when 
we know something is false our conditioning drives us 
to continue to act it out. In this case it is very 
difficult even to sort out what is true and what is 

A woman in her forties wrote to me as follows: 

"Now I realize all that about it's being an instinct, 
but I think there's something more to the story. When 
I reflect on my own past experience, I can rarely find 
a time when I was driven to it from inside need. I'm 
not saying if I didn't have it for a long period 
(which hasn't ever happened to me), I might not feel 
the instinct, but I'm saying we need some evidence of 
just how much because I suspect that even the minimum 
is far, far less than is believed. ... I know I 
talked myself into most sex probably looking for the 
"earth-moving orgasm" which maybe was a hoax anyway. 
What if no one had given me those words with which I 
talked myself into it? I begin to distrust it all. 
Reminds me of that line from Notes from the First 
Year: sometimes you'd rather play ping pong." 

No doubt there are some innate needs, or at least 
propensities. But a propensity can be culturally 
built into an obsession or culturally killed off, 
sometimes simply by never reinforcing it. 

I personally suspect that some form of sex urge may 
turn out to be innate. Human beings reproduced before 
they had an elaborate social organization institution¬ 
alizing sexual intercourse and before full page color 
ads in magazines urging women to "Be Some Body". 

And if it turns out that this urge is not that 


strong, it might still be worth keeping (i.e. reinfor¬ 
cing) if it affords people physical pleasure or 
pleasures of intimacy. But it should be taken for 
granted that it must be pleasurable to both parties / 
always: which means it must never be institutional¬ 

ized by law or culture. And if it is_ a basic "drive" 
felt by both men and women, there is no need to in¬ 
stitutionalize it to ensure its survival. 

What we "see" when we look inside may correspond 
very poorly to reality. We’re saturated with a par¬ 
ticular story about what's inside. Moreover, we've 
been saturated with this all our lives, and it has 
conditioned us and made us what we are. We feel that 
we need sex, but the issue is very confused. What is 
it we really need? Is it orgasms? Intercourse? 
Intimacy with another human being? Stroking? Com¬ 
panionship? Human kindness? And do we "need" it 
physically or psychologically? 

Intercourse, in the sense of the physical act which 
is the ultimate aim of so much anxiety, plotting and 
consuming, is not necessarily the thing we are really 
longing for, any more than, in the more obvious cases, 
it is the consumer products advertising builds up 
neurotic longing for. 

Physically, there is a certain objective tension 
and release, at least for a man, when excitation 
proceeds to orgasm. With a woman even this physical 
issue is much less clear: most women don't have 
orgasms at all, and very few always have them. I 
think we might all agree that that isn't why we go to 
bed with a man. In any case an orgasm for a woman 
isn't a release in the same sense that it is for a 
man, since we are capable of an indefinite number, 
remaining aroused the whole time, limited only by 
exhaustion. The release we feel, therefore, is psy¬ 
chological . 

A psychological tension to get this man, to possess 
him in a certain intimate sense, is released when we 
"get him" through his orgasm. We then enjoy the 
pleasure of closeness because he_ is more open to us 
(provided he is_open, and doesn't just turn over and 
go to sleep, or jump up to attend to something else on 
his mind, his attention easily distracted now) . 

Without denying that sex can be pleasurable, I 
suggest that the real thing we seek is closeness, 


Merging, perhaps a kind of oblivion of self that dis¬ 
solves the terrible isolation of individualism. The 
pleasure argument doesn't impress me very much. A lot 
of things are pleasurable without our getting the idea 
that we can't live without them, even in a revolution¬ 
ary context. I can think of certain foods, certain 
music, certain drugs, whose physical pleasurableness 
compares favorably even to good sex. 

Moreover, destruction of sense of isolation through 
communication, community, human kindness, and common 
cause are all available from other women as you work 
together in the struggle against oppression. With 
other women you are more than friends, you are sisters. 
It would be a mistake to brush off too quickly the 
spiritual strength to be gained from sisterhood or to 
overestimate the solace in the arms of a man, just 
because that is, traditionally, women's only resort. 

What I want to suggest is not that sex is by its 
nature evil and destructive, but that it is not an 
absolute physical need: the assumption that it is_ an 
absolute physical need is evil and the patterns of 
behavior that grow out of that assumption are destruc¬ 

Most of us recognize that sexual relationships 
often turn out to be evil and destructive in a society 
where dehumanization, exploitation, and oppression of 
women is so deeply imbedded into the culture. What we 
seek is the exception, the rare case where we have, or 
think for a little while that we might have, the right 
guy and the right circumstances. 

But even in love we are limited when we believe 
that we must screw to express love. We are programmed 
to think that not only is sex the only way to demon¬ 
strate or prove our love, it is the only (or best) way 
to express it. And in this dangerous and alienating 
society we are always very anxious to demonstrate, to 
prove, and to express our love, and to have the affec¬ 
tions of our lover demonstrated, proved, and expressed 
to us. For men this is doubly compelling because sex 
for a man is the only or best way to prove or express 
his virility, both by the demonstration of sexual 
potency and by the imposing of his will on her. 

To the extent that this is true, then, we are 
conditioned to that one mode of expression and turn to 
it uncritically. But we need to develop new nonsexual 


ways of relating to people, to men as well as women. 

The obsession with genital sexuality, and screwing 
in particular, cheats us out of a world of rich possi¬ 
bilities. We think that love is sex love, genital sex 
love. Therefore we can't love women or men we aren't 
sexually involved with or interested in. 

Affection too is identified with genital sex and 
except for children, pets, and a few close relatives, 
all physical affection must be limited to our assigned 
male sex partner. Even communication, human contact 
and understanding, is assumed to be available only in 
the intimacy of genital sexual contact. 

All desire for love, companionship, physical affec¬ 
tion, communication, and human kindness therefore 
translate to us into a desire for sex. This is 
pathetically narrow, impossibly limiting. Especially 
since it can be asked with some justice whether it is 
very common to obtain this communication, this human 
kindness, this companionship and affection we seek. 

It's what we want, all right, but we must ask of it, 
as we ask of the patent medicine which promises just 
what we want, does it really do that? And if not, 
perhaps it is, in practice, a fraud. 

In fact, as women have frequently observed, sex can 
be a fast way to ruin a good relationship. Either 
because the man just can't treat her as an equal when 
he's so personally involved, or because he doesn't 
know how to treat a woman equally in a sexual relation¬ 
ship, or because he was secretly or subconsciously 
after the conquest all along. 

Another problem is that men have a different view 
of love and sex than women and for the most part women 
do not know this. They assume they are making equal 
and similar investments. 

Studies have been made of what men and women think 
love is, what love means to them. Affection and 
companionship are first on the women's lists, with 
security and other elements following, and sex turns 
up as number 8. Men reverse this with sex first. 
Companionship and affection are secondary goals for 
men. This orientation of men, coupled with the set of 
cultural attitudes (and fears) men have toward women, 
make the sexual love relationship a poor place for a 
woman to seek communication and human understanding. 

However, as long as we are able to make clear 


demands of a relationship, to insist that the man ful¬ 
fill certain requirements or we shall do without him, 
thank you, then we can keep our heads above water. 
These requirements might be: (1) He is sexually inter¬ 
ested in me, not just interested in sex with me the 
one who was closest at hand. (2) He is not indifferent 
to me aside from the sex; he has tender feelings, 
loyalty, perhaps even love for me. (3) He respects me 
as a person, is willing to discuss things with me, 
does not browbeat me, lecture me, or disparage my 
opinions or projects. 

It is when we are not free, or do not feel free, to 
make such a set of minimum demands on a relationship 
that the serious trouble arises. And we are not free 
when we are in the grip of the false conditioning that 
decrees that we need sex. We are not free if we 
believe the culture's ominous warnings that we will 
become "horny" (what a callous, offensive word) and 
frustrated and neurotic and finally shrivel up into 
prunes and have to abandon hope of being good, 
creative, effective people. We are not free if we 
believe that we, like the lower animals, are driven by 
something which is not only instinctual but mindlessly, 
hopelessly, ineluctable. 

If we believe all that, then, due to the rarity of 
good, healthy, constructive relationships between men 
and women in the world today, we will be forced to 
accept, even seek out, evil and destructive relation¬ 
ships where we are used, and accept that humiliation 
in return for the privilege of "using him". 

If it were true that we needed sex from men, it 
would be a great misfortune, one that might almost 
doom our fight. (Meanwhile, the belief that it is 
true can serve the same function.) Fortunately, it is 
not true. When we seek sex it is by conscious intel¬ 
ligent choice. We wish to experience through intimacy 
human kindness, communication, back-to-the-womb merg¬ 
ing and oblivion, child-like openness. 

We do it because we think it's the right thing to 
do. We may be mistaken. We may only think it's the 
right thing because we think that we will turn into 
neurotic bitches if we don't. But we don * t do it 
because we are sexual beings who cannot "deny our 

According to this argument, to have sexual feelings, 


or an energy that could be rapidly converted into 
sexual energy, and yet to choose not to engage in 
sexual intercourse but rather to expend that energy on 
something else which seems, at the moment, of higher 
priority, is to "deny" our sexuality. 

This is what men have done to us all along. (They 
do not apply this same logic to themselves.) Because 
they only relate to us sexually they conclude that we 
are just sexual beings. If we then function on any 
other level something is seriously out of joint since 
in effect we are "denying*' that we are primarily 
sexual beings. 

But in fact, it is only if we are merely sexual 
beings/ exclusively sexual beings, that choosing to 
put our energy elsewhere indicates any kind of denial. 
(The great scientist or artist or writer who puts all 
his energy in his work is not denying anything—that 
would be to insult him—he simply feels that the day 
is only so long and for this particular time his work 
is the most important thing to him.) 

Personally, I recognize that I have sexual feelings. 
The exact nature and origin of them is open to debate, 
but I have no doubt that there is an objective, 
physical reality involved at least to some extent. 
However, I and I alone will decide what importance 
these feelings have in my life as a human being. 

We are not living in an ideal society and "post¬ 
revolutionary" characters or life styles might well 
hinder revolution or make it impossible. The fact 
that in a good society women might want to produce 
children, at least until the perfection of the arti¬ 
ficial womb, is no reason for me to take myself out of 
the struggle by having children now under these 

Similarly, the belief that sex would have a place 
in a good society does not necessarily mean that we 
must engage in it now. That decision must be based on 
the objective conditions of the present. Let me say 
something about the objective conditions of the 

We are crippled people living in an evil and de¬ 
structive world. We have a great deal to do beyond 
the mere business of living. There is much work that 
needs to be done, and not, by any means, just the 
work of liberating people and making a revolution. 


There is the work of rebuilding ourselves, learning 
to know ourselves and our potentials, learning to 
respect ourselves, learning to respect and work with 
other women. We must overcome all the self-destruc¬ 
tive patterns we have been taught in a lifetime of 
being female. 

This work of reclaiming ourselves and making a 
revolution in women's minds in order to free all of us 
is the most important work. If a particular sexual 
relationship or encounter is convenient, appropriate, 
and pleasurable, if it is not demeaning or possessive 
or draining in any way, you might decide to choose to 
invest some of your precious self in it. 

But remember how precious your time and your energy 
and your ego is, and respect yourself enough to insist 
that the rewards be equal to the investment. 

Dana Densmore 
June, 1969 

"SEXUALITY: Sex is not part of a relationship; on 

the contrary, it is a solitary experience, non-crea- 
tive, a gross waste of time. The female can easily- 
far more easily than she may think-condition away her 
sex drive, leaving her completely cool and cerebral 
and free to pursue truly worthy relationships and ac¬ 
tivities? but the male, who seems to dig women sexu¬ 
ally and who seeks constantly to arouse them, stimu¬ 
lates the highly-sexed female to frenzies of lust, 
throwing her into a sex bag from which few women ever 
escape. The lecherous male excites the lustful 
female; he has to-when the female trandscends her 
body, rises above animalism, the male, whose ego con¬ 
sists of his cock, will disappear. 

Sex is the refuge of the mindless. And the more 
mindless the woman, the more deeply embedded in the 
male 'culture', in short, the nicer she is, the more 
sexual she is. The nicest women in our 'society' are 
raving sex maniacs. But, being just awfully, awfully 
nice they don't, of course, descend to fucking-that's 
uncouth-rather they make love, commune by means of 
their bodies and establish sensual rapport..." 

Valerie Solanas 
S.C.U.M. Manifesto 


I am just-ME. 

Covered with scars and thorns, 
Tears BLASTING from my eyes, 

In your bed 

I have been left for dead too often 
(and sometimes I did die) 

For you to kill me again. 


That no matter what you have done 
I am still here. 

And it has made me dangerous, and wise. 

And brother. 

You cannot whore, perfume, or suppress me any more 
I have my own business in this skin 
And on this planet. 

Gail Murray 
March, 1970 


Indra Dean Allen 



All "civilized" societies and many "primitive" 
societies are structured on the assumption that women 
are less capable of social contribution than men. 

This is often manifested in the notion that women are 
capable of a different kind of contribution than men 
("separate but equal") or that they are selfish or 
frigid if they don't contribute their sexuality in 
some way (most often through motherhood) . This has 
meant a division of labor by sex which has accorded 
woman a private/ home-centered/ emotional world of 
childbearing and sex. 

All manifestations of the assumption that women 
are humanly different must be destroyed. The few 
biological differences between men and women should 
not mean that women are relegated to an entirely dif¬ 
ferent role. The fact that women can bear children 
should not mean that they bear total responsibility 
for the raising of those children. The fact that 
women cannot lift as much weight as men should not 
mean that they are considered intellectually/ emo¬ 
tionally/ spiritually or otherwise physically weaker 
(women are constitutionally far stronger than men) . 
Basically/ it is the attitude (with its manifesta¬ 
tions) that women are different that we want to de¬ 
stroy. It has resulted in a pattern of sex roles 
that forces men as well as women to fulfill their 
definition by sex before they can define themselves 
as individuals. For men this has meant that their 
activities and gestures represent aggression and 
power. Men have exerted these qualities over women 
and derived a great deal of psychological reward 
from women's responses of submission. For women/ 
the sex role system has not only predefined the 
quality of their thought and action, but it has 
restricted their activity. Any woman who does not 
make herself appealing to men or who chooses not to 
bear children or engage in extensive sexual relations 
is thereby considered not only an undesirable woman, 
but an "antisocial" person. 

When we speak of the freedom to define oneself, we 
mean also freedom from the poles of aggression and 
passivity. To choose between these poles is to have 


no choice at all. Their existence is the result of 
the sex role system. Because children are trained one 
way or the other and not allowed to incorporate char¬ 
acteristics of the n opposite" sex into their behavior, 
these qualities become intensely polarized. This has 
meant the major loss in productivity of half the human 
race, for passivity for women has meant no right to 
assertion whatsoever. It has also meant a great loss 
of constructive activity by men. They waste a great 
deal of their time in frantic attempts to prove their 

Female Liberation means very literally the liber¬ 
ation of the concept of the female. (When I use 
"female" or "male" qualitatively, I am referring to 
the socialized patterns. I do NOT mean to imply that 
these characteristics are biological differences.) 

The assertion of the male concept has created a chaotic 
world - massive powers destroying each other in the 
quest for more power, economies dependent on wars of 
aggression, masses of oppressed peoples caught in in¬ 
tricate hierarchies of caste and class and ineffectual 
bureaucracies intent on the preservation of central¬ 
ized modes of decision-making. Hierarchy, centraliz¬ 
ation and the patriarchal family are all manifesta¬ 
tions of aggression. Our perception of other possi¬ 
bilities has been blinded by male patterns of hierar¬ 
chy, i.e. the exploitation of males. Yet in "primi¬ 
tive" matriarchal cultures these patterns did not 
exist. Authority and children were cared for collec¬ 
tively. They were viewed as the responsibility as 
well as the future of the culture as a whole. They 
were not owned by private individuals. 

We hear a great deal of talk now about humanizing 
our technology - restructuring it in order to serve 
consumers rather than producers. Since the consumer 
is associated with the female quality of receptive¬ 
ness, it is only through the demand that this quality 
be respected that this can occur. It has been desig¬ 
nated a female role to care for others and to function 
non-competetively. Only if this consciousness is 
created in all humans can our "civilization" hope to 
survive. At present all the manifestations of the 
male patterns of aggression are coming into conflict. 
The contradictions in the sex role system are becoming 
blatant as man is on the verge of destroying himself 


with the "civilization" he has created. The question 
appears now not to be whether or not man will destroy 
himself, but how; will it be the bomb, the population 
explosion, pollution, the raping of the earth's re¬ 
sources or the uprisings of oppressed peoples? We 
can only hope to survive if these problems are evalu¬ 
ated and dealt with according to necessity rather 
than as political power plays; if femaleness as a 
quality is asserted and respected. Only if we work 
with nature, respecting her needs rather than viola¬ 
ting them, can we solve these problems and create a 
civilization where people can grow in harmony with 
each other and with nature. 


The masculine ideology has defined all values, 
structures and ideals to serve its interests. The 
fact that the soft, frail and made-up female stands 
as the ideal of feminine beauty shows how men have 
warped even the aesthetic in an attempt to feel more 
masculine. Because these definitions are intended to 
preserve a pattern that superficially benefits the 
male ego, they are inherently immature. People strive 
to assume the definitions of themselves and of fulfill¬ 
ment that pervade our culture and are thereby stunted 
in the growth process. The concept of power is per¬ 
haps the most grossly misconstrued. Because political 
power has been maintained in the hands of a few and 
misused by those few, we have come to think of power 
in those terms. So some say that women have no power. 
True, they don't hold the kind of power that is ac¬ 
knowledged as established authority. Yet they can 
exert a manipulative and therefore demeaning kind of 
power. They can use their services or the threat of 
the non-availability of these services to create 
change. They can also exert authority over their 
children that is potentially the most inhuman kind of 
power held by one person. Power should instead mean 
the freedom to be respected and to respect oneself in 
one's exertion of human authority. If everyone had 
power, the concept could no longer exist as it does 
now. Strength should in the same way include those 
qualities of self-respect, sensitivity and understand¬ 
ing rather than superficial assertions of masculinity. 

To support the masculine ideology, security has meant 


assurance of one’s rank in the social and economic 
hierarchy. Only if this hierarchy didn't exist and 
people were encouraged to figure out the world for 
themselves, could security come to mean internal sta¬ 

The process of civilization has meant the triumph 
of the masculine ideal. The most "civilized" cultures 
are those that exert the most control over other cul¬ 
tures - that have developed technology to its greatest 
extent at the risk of total annihilation and the loss 
of human motivation or consideration. Inherent in the 
dialectic of an increasingly extreme assertion of the 
male principle is its own destruction. It's not an 
accident that the female liberation movement has begun 
now, in the midst of international opposition to the 
manifestations of male assertion (imperialism) . This 
assertion has gone too far. It can no longer be veiled 
as the advancement and spreading of civilization to 
the benefit of all mankind. Hierarchy stunts and sub¬ 
verts the civilizing process. Although there have 
been attempts by men at de-centralization (anti-trust, 
anti-monopoly laws, balance of powers), they could not 
succeed. For the fundamental and basic pattern of 
centralization was not perceived - the concentration 
of all power in the hands of men. Efforts have been 
geared toward the balance of male powers, rather than 
toward breaking it up, thus maintaining the superior¬ 
ity of men. 

The process of civilization must now arrive at a 
more humane means of integrating our wishes and de¬ 
sires with reality. Technology made this possible to 
some extent. It allowed some a life of leisure while 
being provided with the luxuries as well as the neces¬ 
sities of life. Yet because it has been used to pro¬ 
vide well only for the few, it has become an inhuman 
and oppressive force for the many. If our culture 
were consumer rather than producer oriented so that 
we employed machine slaves rather than human slaves, 
used the potential of science to aid people in medical 
research, etc. rather than creating bombs, and pro¬ 
vided everyone with a certain amount of leisure, tech¬ 
nology could be a great force in the furthering of 
civilization. But as it stands now it is not only 
immature, but destructive. 

Sanity has been defined as the ability to survive 


emotionally and to function in this culture. Yet to 
be considered sane, one must conform to the expecta¬ 
tions and definitions that now exist. One must sup¬ 
press all attempts to truly integrate one's ideals 
with reality, for "reality" dictates that we must not 
question or violate the male patterns. A "sane" popu¬ 
lation thereby stunts the growth of civilization. 
Morality and the legality that derives from it have 
also had more to do with conforming to established 
patterns of behavior than preserving one's self-respect 
by doing what one truly believes to be right. A moral 
culture would allow the greatest freedom of creative 
assertion possible without violating this freedom of 

The "New Left" has brought up an amusing dialectic 
in its criticisms of the feminist groups. It puts 
down many of our meetings for being personal rather 
than political. It's patterned notion of political 
change involves historic, romantic images of fighting 
in the streets. The Left can't see that for women to 
talk about their relations with men and society, 
and to discover the patterns that exist and the simi¬ 
larity of their situations is the most revolutionary 
change possible. They will no longer be willing to 
live isolated, private lives, believing men's defini¬ 
tions of them. They will fight for female liberation 
now, for they understand how it immediately relieves 
their lives. The "political" actions of the New Left 
can help no one relieve their immediate oppression. 

We all must wait until "after the revolution". No 
wonder women don't trust politics. The Left sounds 
like it's giving a campaign speech. We can be sure 
that if discussion isn't "personal" - if it doesn't 
seem vital to our everyday lives - that it won't pro¬ 
duce change in our favor. 


There can be no universal or lasting liberation 
until there is female liberation. The oppression of 
many different castes and classes of people is possible 
only because the patterns of male dominance have not 
been fundamentally destroyed. These patterns can only 
be eliminated by the assertion of feminist principles 
for they are historically as well as psychologically 
linked with the oppression of the female. 


The first division of labor was by sex. The ques¬ 
tion that has not yet been adequately answered deals 
with why this division of labor resulted in the oppres 
sion (i.e. the inability of a category of people to 
define themselves and choose freely from equal possi¬ 
bilities) of the female by the male. There have been 
and still are a few cultures in which women were "in 
power", but, as I have mentioned, this did not result 
in the oppression of the male. The answer probably 
has something to do with men's fear of women. Whether 
this was originally a fear of the unknown or the dif¬ 
ferent, of that which was not understood (the repro¬ 
ductive functions) , or of the blood of the menstrual 
cycle, has yet to be discovered. Yet the taboos as¬ 
sociated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and child 
birth are the only taboos that all cultures have held 
in common. 

Men have been able to deal with their fear of women 
only by institutionalizing her differences. By relat¬ 
ing to the abstract (religion, mores) men have con¬ 
tinued to feel in control of situations they otherwise 
were afraid of. At any rate, the oppressor-oppressed 
pattern was first established in the domination of the 
female by the male. This pattern existed long before 
the manifestations of private property and class oc¬ 
curred. There are some anthropological analyses that 
declare that the downfall of a universal matriarchy 
occurred when men conquered women and instituted a 
class society. But there never has been a universal 
matriarchy. Nor have all patriarchal cultures derived 
from the overthrow of a matriarchal structure. If in¬ 
deed women held at least equal amounts of authority 
with men, how could they submit to their own overthrow? 
This seems to be a gross distortion of history that's 
calculated to make women fight for the destruction of 
class society if they want to be free. But class 
society cannot be destroyed until competition, aggres¬ 
sion, hierarchy and power are dealt with fundamentally. 
Only women's groups have questioned these in theory 
and practice and worked with alternative structures. 
Feminism undermines all assumptions in that it presents 
and works with alternative institutions and its mani¬ 
festations affect the lives of everyone. 

Lisa Leghorn 

March, 1970 



There is a common idea that long hair on men is a 
sign of today's liberation from sex roles, a symbol 
of the approach toward unisex in attitudes, and a 
step by men toward femininity. 

I suggest it is just the opposite. Rebecca West, 
in an article in Mademoiselle , says she hears in rock 
music bullroarings, the advertisement of virility. I 
suspect much the same can be said of long hair. 

Longish hair on men is quite in style now, and I 
take no exception to the general trend of the style; 
in fact, for reasons I will go into later, I am in 
favor of it. (For those who can't wait, a hint: anti¬ 
sex is antiwoman.) 

What I'm talking about when I suggest that long 
hair is a bullroaring of virility is the very deliber¬ 
ate, very serious expression of rebellion that is em¬ 
bodied in the hair of Hells Angels men, in the hair 
of Frank Zappa, in the hair of the various rock musi¬ 
cians, hippies, and miscellaneous "freaks" who have 
consciously cultivated a wild dangerous image, the 
most striking characteristic of which is the long, 
dirty-looking, unkempt hair. 

If long hair is a rebellion against something, it 
is against the society that demands that men be less 
male, which is to say less bull-like, i.e. neat, clean 
inoffensive. These virtues are "feminine." In rebel¬ 
lion against the society that forces them to be femi¬ 
ninely inoffensive, castrated, they grow their hair 
long and unkempt and dirty, sticking out in all direc¬ 
tions, mortally offending and profoundly repulsing 
most of society (not just the little old ladies but 
even more, lower class and working people), which is 
exactly the effect they wish to have. 

Their girls (the "chicks") approve of them for this 
manly arrogance in not caring what society thinks of 
them, for rejecting the castration society wants to 
impose on them. Cutting off Samson's hair symbolizes 
castration? no woman wants to be a Delilah, jealous of 
her man's strength. 

Very long hair on men is not feminine. It is "femi 
nine" to want to be attractive, appealing. Women may 
wish to be daring, but never offensive, never repul¬ 
sive. Women are always conscious of how they are 


affecting others. They may choose to make statements 
of originality, imaginativeness, modernity, etc. with 
their appearance, but they never wish to appear ugly, 
dirty, frightening, or vicious—looking. 

Long hair on men may be repulsive for more compli¬ 
cated reasons than that it looks dirty and ugly. The 
fact that these men choose to rebel at all is danger¬ 
ous and frightening. 

Elizabeth Hardwick in her Mademoiselle article 
says: "The violent resentment of the long-haired 
young man is a measure of the greater importance ac¬ 
corded to the behavior of boys, the threat their 
swerving from the traditional paths poses for all of 
society. The masculine role is not a preference; 
upon it almost every institution of society depends: 
government, business, medicine, law, police, defense, 
heavy labor, sports." 

But the hero lives by his own rules. Women may 
be determined by duty, but the real man determines 
his own life, and if that means rejecting all the 
values of his parents and his world, it is his pride 
to do that. 

The point of this article is not to suggest that 
the freedom to actualize or express a creative indi¬ 
viduality is bad, or that wildness (in its good sense 
a tonic to civilization—as Thoreau: "In Wildness is 
the preservation of the World.") , should be chained 
or repressed or cemented over. I do not believe in 
castration, physical or psychological, of men or 

And I do not doubt that there is an honest element 
of constructive freedom and healthy wildness in those 
expressions which are the most shocking, the most 
offensive to the narrow, repressed, frightened 
Middle America. 

However, there is no need, in my view, for freedom 
or wildness to be offensive to our sense of civil¬ 
ization. And if there are aspects of wildness that 
are offensive to that sense, as for instance the 
violence of the kill-or-be-killed aspect of nature, 
that is forgiveable to the extent that it is innocent, 
which is to say to the extent that it is not inten¬ 
tional . 

Animals function as best they can in the interests 
of the survival of the species; the black widow spider 


devours her mate after copulation so she will not 
starve between fertilization and the laying of her 
eggs—well fed, she is content to let him go. 

Nor is it the point 
of the article that it 
is bad to rebel against 
the repression of sexu¬ 
ality. I would, of 
course, like to see that 
repression replaced with 
something more humane 
and respectful, more 
conscious of human dig¬ 
nity and intelligence, 
than the flaunted rut¬ 
ting that is the usual 
"cure" for "middle class 
class hang-ups." 

I see intentional 
offensiveness in much 
of this deliberate ugli¬ 
ness, this cultivation 
of a dirty and dangerous 

The repressed, the 
"hung-up," are having 
the "cure" shoved down 
their throats. While I 
don't deny that shock 
can be effective, in 
this case I think it 
will not work: partly because I do not believe that 
the counter life style offered is a moral one, but 
mainly because the "cure" is being presented with no 
analysis of the cause of the disease. 

Sexual repression is a symptom. Its causes are 
mixed. Two elements are relevant here. 

There is a large element of fear of women, fear of 
women's sexuality, the feeling that women are repul¬ 
sive in their sexuality. Both men and women suffer 
from that last feeling, and it's a problem that will 
probably persist as long as women are sexual material 
for men rather than transcendent human beings with 
whom men must deal as individuals. 

And there is another feeling, the feeling that 


comes in response to sexist sexuality, when women are 
used sexually by men who consider them slightly sub¬ 
human, men who are struggling with their own fear of 
women and their sense of women's repulsiveness. 

When parents wish to protect their young daughter 
from sex, they both remember what sex meant, when they 
were young: the mother remembers how she felt used, 
soiled, perhaps how she was treated with contempt 
afterwards. The father remembers how he callously 
used girls in his youth, and doesn't want anyone 
treating his daughter, whom he loves, in that way. 

These parents might even be aware that nonexploi- 
tative love and sex are possible, in theory, and still 
go to great lengths to protect their daughter from the 
sort of sex they know (or believe) is waiting for her. 
That sort of sex is dirty, by anyone's definition. 

For the most part I find it appropriate that most 
of society is offended by the dirty and dangerous 
look. It is meant to be offensive, and that comes 
across very well. 

The various excuses offered—that the long hair is 
unsanitary, or that you can't tell the boys from the 
girls—are just excuses. The real reason it is of¬ 
fensive is that it intends to offend. It is anti¬ 
intellectual and a violent and insensitive rejection 
of values people cherish. 

The last thing men want to do is to look like 
women. To make sure there is no confusion, the long- 
hairs usually also sport beards, mustaches, and/or 
sideburns. In fact, as longer hair has become more 
fashionable for "straight" men, it is interesting to 
note that sideburns have appeared simultaneously, 
lengthening with the hair. 

It is not this slightly longer hair that is offen¬ 
sive, of course. The boyish Kennedy shag, the Paul 
McCartney thatch that invites the exploration of 
feminine fingers into its clean sensual softness, 
these have been looked askance at, certainly, but 
they have never repulsed anyone, even when they were 
ahead of fashion. 

In fact, short hair, for example a marine crew cut 
these days when shaggy hair on men is fashionable and 
expected, is perhaps even more objectionable. This is 
a case of going to the other extreme to avoid resem¬ 
bling women. 


And simple fear of resembling women is not all 
that's involved in painfully short hair on men. It is 
an anti-sex phenomenon, which naturally means anti¬ 
woman. Afraid of women, repulsed by women's dangerous 
genitals, they are therefore repulsed by and afraid of 
sexuality in general, including their own. To deal 
with this they cut their hair short, as a rejection of 
sensuality, freedom, luxury, etc. 

Hair traditionally represents energy. Body hair on 
men represents baser forces, hair on the head spiritual 
forces. Hair also represents fertility, a symbolism 
apparently stronger in the mystique surrounding long 
hair on women. 

Although the sym¬ 
bolism of spiritual 
force is clearly 
present in the case 
of the Offensively 
Hairy, it seems that 
much of the body 

hair symbolism has 
become involved in 
it, partly perhaps 
because it gives the 
appearance of being 
an extension of un¬ 
controlled body hair. 

The different sig¬ 
nificance of long 

hair on men and 

women is striking. 

For women long hair 
is feminine, lushly 
fertile ( mother 

earth), passive, womanly, sexy, objectifying, romantic, 
impractical, old-fashioned. On men it is virile, re¬ 
bellious, a symbol of strength (Samson), a proclama¬ 
tion of his existence in a state of nature, uncivili¬ 
zed and undomesticated (Tarzan). 

Personally, I mistrust the primitive. I have never 
noticed that women fared very well when men were emu¬ 
lating apes. 



We are now seeing what may be beginnings of a trend 
toward men cutting their hair. John Lennon, Ringo, 
even (unless the picture I saw was misleading) Frank 
Zappa. This is mainly a backing off from the vir¬ 
ility statement of the long hair. It was just too 
much of a struggle to maintain that image against the 
would-be castrators; it seems easier to be a little 
less virile and consequently a little more anonymous. 
It is also something else. Men discovered, as women 
always knew, that long hair is a drag: it is imprac¬ 
tical, difficult to care for, to keep clean and out of 
the way. 

The virility statement may not turn out to be worth 
the loss of privacy (being shouted at on the street 
by "straights") and loss of freedom and comfort ("Oh, 
no, I don't have a rubber band with me!") . It will be 
interesting to see whether men do give long hair up as 
a drag, and if so, whether they can learn to relax 
about virility or if they merely substitute something 

Dana Densmore 
April, 1970 



All religions have evolved from the unequal rela¬ 
tionship of the male sex to the female, and have been 
grounded in a prehistoric acceptance of the different 
kinds of labor each sex was best fitted to perform for 
the survival of the entire society. Early statues of 
female deities with swollen breasts and heavy hips 
show that the female was indistinguishable from her 
role as breeder. Later goddesses like the Egyptian 
Isis and the Babylonian Astarte, the Greek Demeter 
and Roman Cybele retain a close identification with 
the prostrate, passive earth. Plowed and seeded, 
their flesh brought forth new life? to their wombs 
it returned to decay and die. Certain goddesses had 
taught women how to plant crops, to weave cloth and 
make tools needed for agricultural and domestic work. 
Household ceremonies reminded mankind of their life- 
giving generosity. But these same goddesses presided 
at the crises of birth and death. The virgin Artemis 
and the withered and ghostly Hecate were both aspects 
of the moon's cycle. 

Man, the hunter and warrior, worshipped a horned god 
whose aggressive energy insured men's success in secur¬ 
ing meat for the community. The essential character¬ 
istic of this god was sexual potency. Stone phalli 
symbolized his intimidating energy. In the heavens, 
man found gods who carried on wars (resembling his) 
in an attempt to secure control of the cosmos. The 


sun was the giver of light and order; its free energy 
mastered the expanse of the earth. Myths told how day 
triumphed over night. The isolation of light from 
darkness was Yahweh's first creative act. Greek Zeus 
conquered all enemies to become the father of a gener¬ 
ation of gods, a law-giver, but still he behaved like 
a trickster. Part of the role of a god or hero was to 
outwit rival challengers. The peace that male deities 
established over the female earth was based on a state 
of continual watchfulness and petty warfare. Eventu¬ 
ally a firm hierarchy was asserted that grouped female 
and male divinities into "families" within regions of 
authority; there were deities of the ocean, of the 
earth and of the heavens. And over all existed the 
paternal protection of a Zeus, or a Jupiter or a 

Males constructed civilization upon what they ab¬ 
stracted. Men were the formulators of ideas (that is, 
an abstract ordering of material data) and women the 
fleshly substance of those intellectual conceptions. 

Men used cognitive thought to handle the problems of 
living and women used intuitive perception. The 
"ideas" men created to organize and dominate nature 
were come to by objectifying and making alien the 
material which these ideas defined. Man asserted him¬ 
self against things and against that producer of human 
"things", woman, in order to get beyond his circum¬ 
stance of being animal. He institutionalized this 
struggle in a succession of ideologies, beginning with 
religion on the level of "magic". Gradually, he re¬ 
cognized that the world had begun from a primal chaos, 
from a state of no word, of no name strong enough to 
command any particle of the chaos into rational order. 
This pre-conscious state of the universe was female. 
"Nature" was the term man became able to use when he 
had reached a stage of consciously separating himself 
from, and exploiting a part of that universe. This 
happened when males as a group began to understand 
their freedom from the physical effects of reproduc¬ 
tion to mean a right to clan or gens ownership of 

God (a deification and a reassurance of that domi¬ 
nation man fought to exert over natural processes) was 
revealed to have created every individual creature by 
His Word, His Breath. Each item in His program of life 


was bound, therefore, to submit to His law. His under¬ 
standing. This was religious reality. Woman parti¬ 
cipated in it only as she was called forth and given 
duties by God. 

The Christian systems of Catholicism and Protes¬ 
tantism have described and regulated what was to be 
called Reality. Millions of European and American 
females have been forced to accept the nature Chris¬ 
tianity has assigned them and to examine their daily 
life and conduct according to what it has taught was 
"good" for each sex. Its outlines are still apparent 
in the mental, emotional, and physical training given 
to females. 

Although Catholicism matured as a feudal institution 
and Protestantism originated and evolved as the expres¬ 
sion of middle class needs, both systems have organized 
female people and female awareness (qualities females 
developed by caring for children and males) for the 
benefit of male people. God placed females under the 
protection of fathers, husbands and brothers. He then 
organized males under the authority of certain power¬ 
ful men, who, by fact of birth, wealth, or ability to 
compete aggressively, were believed destined to be 
superior protectors of other males. The ideas of 
church (a spiritual body to which every Christian 
belonged by baptism, and in which all classes and both 
sexes were made equal by grace) and state (the enfor¬ 
ced protection of all life and property by an armed 
nobility) constituted the whole of society. 

Religion always serves to explain how the particu¬ 
lar, as a single self or as part of a human grouping, 
is related to the cosmic. The dualism established by 
conceiving female as other than male, set male against 
female. Female character was seen as external, myste¬ 
rious and threatening to male existence. Western 
theology and philosophy elaborated on the contradiction 
between the categories of male order (names and laws) 
and female chaos (phenomena), of mind and body, spirit 
and matter. "Passive" matter was subordinate to 
"active" spirit. Just as the male sperm was thought 
to animate inert menstrual blood accumulated in the 
female's womb, the radiant Word of God was believed 
to give form and significance to human society. 

The medieval church can be understood as an earthly 


model of the City of God, the Universal Kingdom of 
Christ. Heaven was mapped out as a supra-physical 
region and was administered like a Roman city-state or 
a feudal fief. God demanded loyalty and obedience 
from the inhabitants of his domain. Their rights 
were granted them from above, according to His Will. 
Functions of nobles and princes were sanctified with 
church ceremonies; for example, a ruler's coronation 
and the ceremony of knighthood. Princes, along with 
bishops and abbots, administered a law that they re¬ 
ceived from divine authority. This law described and 
protected each subordinant social grouping. 

Simultaneously there existed another contrary 
authority-the Devil, a former angel who had challenged 
the established power with his own pride and been cast 
down to the subterranean region. Hell. All creatures 
that did not turn to God, were natural prey for Satan's 
heresy. The church taught that original sin was in¬ 
herent in flesh; men and women inherited the mortal 
consequences of Adam and Eve's disobedient craving to 
make their own decisions. Their act of eating fruit 
from the tree of knowledge brought about sexual aware¬ 
ness and reproduction. To take pleasure from inter¬ 
course would be to submit to mortality. Since it was 
the female who first succumbed to the seduction of the 
world, a male for his salvation could not take delight 
in her flesh. Marriage permitted a man to procreate 
offspring but chastity was valued as a higher disci¬ 
pline to be practiced by the clergy and monastic or¬ 

The evil in people expressed itself first in over¬ 
bearing pride or in greed. Pride overthrew the order 
of loyalties; it was an usurpation of importance and 
power inappropriate to the person's given position. 

It brought about uncontrolled rage or, conversely, 
deep despair. Greed introduced envy, an unsatisfied 
craving for things. A distinction was made between 
these mental sins and the sins of the flesh, like in¬ 
temperance and lust. These latter belonged to the 
mundane world to which women were assigned. Lust was 
pictured as a woman holding a mirror, but Pride was 
shown as a man being thrown down from his horse. 
Catholicism recognized that masculine thought might 
try to master life without God's permission. Woman, 


being sensual flesh, simply seduced man to challenge 
God; her Vanity only reflected his aggression and 
never expressed an equivalent human pride. 

Evil deeds were poten¬ 
tial heresy because they 
implied an alienation 
from God. They threat¬ 
ened the ordained func¬ 
tioning of Catholic so¬ 
ciety. The economic 
control of the landowning 
church over the lives of 
the baptized had been 
given abstract justifi¬ 
cation by declaring that 
only the Church could 
offer God's saving grace 
to death-doomed humanity. 

Daily, during the Mass, God's grace transformed the 
material elements of bread and wine into food for the 
spirit. All changes in society, all occurrences or 
developments in people not clearly sanctioned by this 
grace might be the work of the Anti-Christ (the apoc¬ 
alyptic form of Satan). 

The program of salvation promoted by Catholicism 
emphasized obedience and good works. The highest 
form of Christian life was a monastic or priestly 
asceticism. Such practice required the dedication 
of all of one's physical and mental efforts toward 
a life remote from the ordinary life most people found 
it necessary to lead. The isolation and rigid self- 
control it demanded were more appropriate to male be¬ 
havior than to female. Women were taught to suppress 
physical pain and feelings of despair in order to sur¬ 
vive. When entering the nunnery they put aside a need 
to be physically beautiful in order better to dedicate 
their affections and actions to a spiritual husband - 
Christ. Control by a husband who demanded offspring 
and pleasure was exchanged for a law which denied the 
value of these desires and humiliated a woman for her 
completely sexual role. A man, when he became a monk, 
gave up his personal claim to property, and placed his 
personal aggressiveness at the service of the Church, 
with whose male hierarchy he could closely identify 
himself. His voluntary joining of the brotherhood of 


the Church existed as an important and glorious de¬ 
cision. It depended upon the existence of church 
estates, monastic production and donated treasure. 
Self-discipline took outward forms in fasting, absolute 
chastity, the giving up of all personal possessions, 
even in the punishment of the body by flagellation, 
etc. These actions vividly testified to the ideas 
the Church held about the spiritually pure state. 

Those masses of men and women who could not afford 
to practice asceticism were rewarded, according to 
their obedience (humility) , with grace derived from the 
accumulated deeds of saints and martyrs. The poor, 
the serfs, females and children were instructed to 
imitate the pure life of the spirit by giving their 
time, goods and trust to those institutions and per¬ 
sons tangibly embodying God's idea of what was best. 
Through unquestioning devotion they could counteract 
the harmful effects of being female, not adult, or 
inferior in class. Various pictures were drawn to 
describe the common route to heaven. One was the 
Ladder of Virtue. Those climbing up rung by rung 
are offered aid from above by saints and angels (the 
hierarchy of heaven) in their struggle to reach God. 

Mercy was the healing power that God, as feudal 
lord, exercised on behalf of sinners. Gradually this 
reprieve from death and from the tortures of hell was 
begged for and granted through a female intermediary: 
the Virgin was elevated to mediate between the mas¬ 
culine demand for absolute order and human (feminine) 
perversity. Mercy, the medieval antidote for arbitrary 
violence and for the physical injustices of the world 
system was never a legitimate part of the order. It 
was provided supernaturally through paternal compas¬ 
sion. The real contradiction that existed between 
the abilities of poor and rich, of males and females 
to follow the rule of the church was obscured by the 
artifice of a superimposed mercy. 

Humility also seemed to smooth out contradictions. 

A humble person bore the flaming anger of princes, the 
brutality of men, neglect, starvation and pregnancy. 
From this virtue blossomed faith, hope and charity. 

The governing virtues of courage, prudence and justice 
that belonged to the warrior, the monarch and to the 
church militant were ranked above these feminine and 
sustaining qualities. 


The cult of the Virgin Mary introduced another role 
for "woman", this time within Christianity. Eve had 
been called the downfall of mankind; she deserved to 
be portrayed prone beneath God's judgment. It was she 
who would continue to tempt man away from God through 
her deadly affinity for the serpent. Mary, chaste and 
maternal, declared herself the humble servant of God's 
purpose. Her sympathy could be counted on to work for 
mankind? the suffering and impoverished could turn to 
her aid and through her concern feel themselves part 
of the Church. Imitation of Mary was the official 
late-medieval program for women? but females themselves 
continued to be aware of their kinship to Eve. Again 
and again she was shown crouching at the base of an 
image of Mary. The church questioned whether females 
had a real interest in supporting God's rule. They 
might easily give their attention to the devil, who 
was not remote in heaven. Woman's female organs bound 
her to Nature, and Nature in its malevolent aspects, 
as well as in its tamed appearance, was personified 
in her. In mastering a woman a man reasserted his 
ordained rule. If a woman was not wife, mother or 
daughter, she was to be suspected and feared as witch 
and temptress. 

The witch maintained a relationship with plants and 
animals that men, and above all, the Church, consider¬ 
ed contrary to the knowledge of the world that God re¬ 
vealed to mankind. Intelligence belonged to the edu¬ 
cated clerics? they defined what was rational. Women 
were not only illiterate but they possessed strange 
intuitive insight, as yet not organized in any positive 
way into male society. A witch could deform, wither, 
abort and drive insane. She exercised these powers 
because she was still part beast, intimate with the 
monstrous energy of nature. Her cycles of sensation 
could give birth to destruction as readily as to life. 

Further, women who claimed and used this "feminine" 
power outside of the Christian boundaries were known 
to be serving the Devil. Woman had betrayed man, and 
above all, God. Christian feudalism understood this 
disloyalty as deliberate subservience to the wrong 
lord. Her perverse actions had to be attributed to 
the influence of some other male image. Witches were 
tortured to exort accounts of their devotion to this 
demonic master. They worshipped him with their bodies. 


devoting to him what was most unholy in Christian 
doctrine. Among other horrors, it was believed that 
witches murdered their own children to devour them or 
drink their blood during a Black Mass. It was clear 
that any female was a potential sorceress. Her posi¬ 
tion of wife, mother, daughter or nun gave her some 
safety from such an accusation. Forced testimony 
and volunteered confessions all declared the same 
truth: the witch was not able to dominate the cosmos 
she inhabited, she only served and embodied its evil 

Protestantism altered this medieval universe by re¬ 
placing the requirements of the Catholic nobility with 
the needs of the middle class. Behind these altera¬ 
tions in dogma and practice the same attitude toward 
mind and matter persisted, the same desire to make the 
female an obedient servant of the "good” husband. 

The Catholic state had existed as a somewhat uneasy 
coalition of feudal princes and feudal bishops. The 
church had its own courts and laws, its taxes and 
soldiers, while the princes drew upon a sacred autho¬ 
rity made unquestionable by the ceremony of coronation. 
By the 15th century control of reality began to be 
taken over by another class, the bourgeosie, whose 
wealth came from their individual struggle to accu¬ 
mulate and redistribute capital, and not from their 
possession of a physical territory. Worldly and spir¬ 
itual governments could no longer be based on a feudal 
model. Gradually the private family became the source 
and the pattern for the new national states and for 
Lutheranism, Calvinism and Puritanism, etc. As an 
institution, the church was visibly separate from 
secular government; but as a system of thought Pro¬ 
testantism was even more carefully incorporated into 
every aspect of business and community through family 
worship and education. 

The family was limited and its ties were more in¬ 
timate than in the preceding centuries. The concept 
of the blood line diminished in value as the impor¬ 
tance of the husband increased. Previously, females 
held legal existence only within marriage; beyond its 
boundaries they were able occasionally to exercise 
some of the male's powers. As the family changed, 
women were recognized as creatures to be controlled 


from birth on. Laws firmly protected their position 
within the family hierarchy. At the same time, the 
roles of wife and mother took on emotional auras. 

This trend expressed itself in Catholicism in the cult 
of the Holy Family. Joseph was dignified as husband 
and Mary was reduced to doting mother. 

True knowledge was no 
longer kept exclusively 
to the ordained; all who 
could read had access to 
the fundamental source 
of Revelation-the Bible. 
The Catholic church claim¬ 
ed to provide, through the 
sacraments, the sole means 
of grace available to man. 
But Protestantism declared 
that such grace could be 
experienced directly in 
individual commitment to 
God's inner law, to the 
truth written in each and 
every heart. The Protestant church functions as a 
guardian that points out and protects this revelation. 
Each faithful Christian is in the same relation to God 
and to the world that a priest is, yet there is no need 
for him to wear special clothes, be celibate, or in 
other ways deny his need to participate in everyday 

The power of God, heaven and hell are still external 
to society, but the judgment of the sinner is not just 
in the future (after the apocalyptic Battle of Armeg- 
gedon); right thinking (faith) is visible in a person's 
earthly career. The Kingdom of God is enjoyed in pre¬ 
sent wealth, wisdom and prestige. 

The program of salvation that Protestantism taught 
was based on an internalized asceticism. Participation 
in the world must be controlled by reason. The indi¬ 
vidual's will-energy motivates him to action that is, 
at the same time, concrete and moral. The Protestant 
conception of morality is bound up with the "scientif¬ 
ic" law of cause and effect that describes material 
states and the changes that occur in phenomena. God 
does not require human beings to be monks and nuns, 
yet a Christian must be detached from the pleasures 


and distresses of his or her situation. "Good" acts 
were particular actions within the family and society/ 
not extraordinary demonstrations of poverty or chas¬ 
tity. Instead/ the love of the husband for his wife 
and her obedience to him were fundamental examples of 
the right conduct expected from human beings. The 
justness of the father was ultimately the righteous¬ 
ness of the whole family/ and the family's virtue was 
that of the state. 

Prosperity was proof of "election" to the ranks of 
the godly. Failure to obtain wealth or prestige was 
viewed as a crime/ not just against God, but against 
the right functioning of the state. Poverty f ignor¬ 
ance, disease, etc., occurred to punish the individual 
for not being committed to God. 

The Catholic duality of good and evil had to be re¬ 
vised to suit this emergence of rational conscience 
and individual responsibility. Un-controlled egotism, 
uncensured emotionality, the intuitive, the non-rati- 
onal are evil. Egotism was an emotional assertion of 
power contrary to the workings of Reason. Such a 
violent demand for control criminally assaulted the 
legitimate society. Sin originated in bad will, the 
inability of the mind to control bodily passions. 

Since faith rests on a personal decision to dedicate 
the self to God, everyone is responsible for the qua¬ 
lity of his or her existence. A person deserves the 
fortune or misfortune that occurs. It compounded a 
man or woman's evil for him or for her to rebel against 
poverty, bad treatment, and child bearing. Virtues no 
longer solely derived from or contributed to the sacred 
character of nobility. Instead, the elevation of 
thrift, orderliness, honesty and industry to virtues 
sanctioned the behavior of the merchants, manufac¬ 
turers and artisans. These qualities were also essen¬ 
tial to a tidy, pleasant and prosperous home. Both 
men and women were exhorted to practice thrift and 
honesty but the woman realized her virtue through 
careful household management. A man demonstrated 
his virtue by running an efficient business. 

By marriage a man acquired his principal servant. 

His ancestor Adam had been given Eve as a helpmate. 

A Husband's first duty was to control the irrational 
nature of his wife and to bend it to the use of so¬ 
ciety. This paternal government was seen as a clear 


analogy of how God cared for his unchaste and erratic 

The new idea that females were child-like, unable 
to learn, to think rationally or to recognize the 
black/white distinctions between good and evil, was 
a further development of the early identification of 
the female with the temporal life of her body. Little 
children had to be educated away from the barbarism 
of their flesh. Female children were limited by phy¬ 
sical conditions from learning or understanding the 
behavior that civilized male children. Usually they 
were not taught to read. Since a female had no in¬ 
tellectual training her conversation was taken to be 
only an emotional expression of her physical respon¬ 
ses. Therefore for her own salvation she was re¬ 
quired to turn to the guidance and authority of a 
husband, who would then stand as responsible for any 
failing that her greater weakness might bring. 

No opportunity was made for females to acquire the 
knowledge that men were using to construct a techno¬ 
logical industrial society. Instead her domestic 
labor was increasingly romanticized. Daily life was 
compartmentalized into business .(outside the home) 
and the solitary, private work done inside it. The 
concept of individuality increased a man's mobility 
since it allowed him to become more and more detached 
from the sacred blood community (his lineage) in which 
his self had been submerged. 

Individualism did not benefit the female so immedi¬ 
ately. On the contrary, what were practical techni¬ 
ques for curing sickness, for gardening, in fact, all 
the ingenious household methods perfected over the 
centuries by females, appeared increasingly petty and 
absurd when compared to male systems of science, 
medicine, physics and chemistry. Men had begun to 
do very different things than they did a few centuries 
before, but women followed the same rituals. They 
were left to study in immense detail the areas to 
which they, as females, were confined. They learned 
what went into a stew or a coat or the growth of a 
child, but they were not expected to change circum¬ 
stances, simply to make sure that all went well. This 
meant that all aspects of any one thing had to be ob¬ 
served and accepted as part of the development of that 
thing. Females perceived life in shades of grey. 


Built into male intellectual systems was the ab¬ 
solute separation of a good (real) element from a bad 
(unreal) element. Positive thought depended on denying 
reality to what could not be rationally conceived. 
Females were not able to use this sort of analysis 
and judgment since these tools contradicted a female's 
acceptance of both good and bad qualities in persons 
and events. Rational decision depended on the appro¬ 
bation of one half and the degradation of the other 
half of a single whole. Because of this, females could 
not be intellectually decisive like males. Women con¬ 
tinued to be aware of both sides of the world and to 
be immobilized by the maternal concern that was expec¬ 
ted of them. 

No other method was available to enable women to 
abstract ideas and theories from female experience. 

When a woman wanted to define her personality as valid, 
as real,she had to adopt the abstract, other-worldly 
terminology that religion offered her. Yet the struc¬ 
ture of that religious reality rested on her inability 
to master the conditions of her existence. The sen¬ 
timents taught her in church sermons and prayer books 
strengthened her tendency to rely entirely on intu¬ 
ition and good emotions to alter what was unbearable. 
Because her position was derived from her husband, 
her god, the best way to affect reality was by in¬ 
fluencing his mind. 

Men accepted the fact that they did not understand 
females. They did not need to know more than her out¬ 
line in order to fit her into their plans. A man 
stated: "I think, I know", but a woman had to make 

the bold assertation: "I feel", and wait until the 
emotion had been judged by men. Mystical passion had 
belonged to the spiritual elite of the middle ages, 
a few of whom had been women. As the area of what 
was called religion contracted, this emotion became 
fanciful and extravagant rather than visionary and 
was assigned to women. Devotion to God had been a 
pure expression of the feudal hierarchy, a loyalty 
that was rewarded with mental superiority and pres¬ 
tige. In the succeeding centuries it became a com¬ 
pletely human-centered erotic feeling, binding females 
closer and closer to their sexuality. A females' know¬ 
ledge was restricted to her personal and private re¬ 
sponse to events. Her language did not contain terms 


to objectify and dignify what happened to her. Pro¬ 
testantism refined a series of old-fashioned nouns 
and adjectives that she was forced to rely on to 
frame her conception of what caused her despair and 
misery. The Devil was still an external master/ a 
horned demon who made blood covenants with his ser¬ 
vants. But more and more he existed within her as a 
secret corruption that in extreme moments produced 
hysteria and convulsions. Dreams and fantasies of 
her bestial state pursued her. Only the church reached 
out to exhort her to follow carefully/ humbly all the 
outlines established by paternal government for her 

Within the family the wife was placed between her 
husband and her children; in the church females made 
up the body of the congregation/ absorbing God's 
word. They devoted themselves to this abstract re¬ 
velation giving it actual meaning by their desire to 
believe in it. A woman prepared home remedies for the 
sick, gave to charities what time and money her hus¬ 
band approved. Her continued association with the 
church reinforced her great determination to be a 
good Christian. Performing these services she forgot, 
or did not notice her struggle for goodness was neces¬ 
sitated by a deep conviction of her natural suscep¬ 
tibility to evil. Of her abiding worthlessness. If 
a man was tempted by the world, she played the temp¬ 
tress. The church conceived of her as man had chosen 
to conceive of her - as the material of the universe: 
chaotic, fruitful and destructive, but always to be 
shaped into intelligence by his mental power - his will. 

Hilary Langhorst 

"I permit no woman to teach or to have authority 
over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed 
first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the 
woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet 
woman will be saved through bearing children, if she 
continues in faith and love and holiness, with mo¬ 
desty ." 

I Timothy 2: 9-15 



One common test of whether a man can accept the 
equality of women is whether or not he is able to lis¬ 
ten to women. Very few can, although a good many are 
quite expert at appearing to listen. Most men think 
of women as inferiors (even if her IQ is higher than 
his) and never seriously consider really listening to 
her ideas. 

A person will listen to another if he expects the 
other person to say something of value. But in the 
case of men, some worthwhile ideas by women are not of 
value to them if they think it will become known that 
the ideas came from a woman. Such is the cultural 
training of men who seem unable to forget that sing¬ 
song refrain heard in childhood: ''Talking to a gir-ul! 
Talking to a gir-ul!" It threatened him with social 
ostracism if he did not conform; men act as if they 
still hear it when they talk to women. 

Most men simply tune out when a woman gets outside 
a permissible sphere of domestic and social welfare 
and into the world of policy-making ideas. The reac¬ 
tion is powerful and physical. They become agitated, 
disconcerted, and deaf. No matter how you sneak up on 
the subject, an automatic governor seems to warn men 
that you are getting into the forbidden area, and their 
ears and minds close in instant protective reaction. 

Many men make no pretense at listening. They do not 
want to hear any woman's ideas and employ three common 
methods of silencing the woman who persists in trying 
to be heard: 1) ignore her ("Did you say something, 
dear?"). 2) ridicule her ("Ho! Ho! What a funny idea!") 
or 3) attack her ("You must be stupid if you think that 
idea has any merit.") Whatever the method, she gets 
the message: he doesn't want to talk to me on this 
subject. She may also get another message: something 
is wrong with men that they cannot listen to women 
without feeling personally threatened. Unfortunately, 
some women get a different message: I must be pretty 

A few other men, especially if they know you are in¬ 
terested in female liberation, have learned how to 
effect a listening pose, although underneath their pro¬ 
blem is still the same. This new-style man listens so 
hard to what you say that he can finish your sentences 


for you. It would be ungrateful of you to suggest that 
it was not what you intended to say, when he is making 
such an effort to show you he considers you an equal 
and that he recognizes a worthy thought; it was some¬ 
thing he might have said himself. It's his way of 
telling you how smart he thinks you are. 

More aggravating is the man who asks your opinion 
with great show of accepting you equally but then does 
not listen to your answer, telling his own opinion in¬ 
stead. Particularly if you pause for a moment to 
think about his question and how best to articulate a 
thoughtful answer to it, he will rush in to help you 
out. It is as if to say that he knows you don't have 
an answer and he is eager to save you the embarrass¬ 
ment of the long silence or of saying something stuoid. 

The most obvious non-listener of those who pretend 
to hear is the one who nods and agrees in order to 
hurry you through to a conclusion so he can go back to 
what he was saying before you began. Or, another will 
launch into such a well-organized refutation when you 
finish that you know he was not really considering 
your idea but only scanning it for flaws to build up 
his argument designed to demolish your idea as soon as 
you stopped talking. And, finally, men in general 
seem to have a compulsive need to pass judgment on 
every idea you present, either favorably or unfavorably, 
as if you were submitting the idea for their approval. 
They seem unable to simply listen to your idea and 
think about it. 

If a woman persists in rejecting these men's efforts 
to avoid listening to her, if she insists upon being 
heard as an intellectual equal, she is called a "cas¬ 
trating female." But why should listening to a woman 
threaten a man's sexual identity? What is this ter¬ 
rible insecurity that haunts men? What is it that 
makes most men incapable of an equal relationship with 

Women get sick of being forced to change the sub¬ 
ject to the limited area that a man feels comfortable 
in. She is tired of having to talk down to him as if 
he were a child, because he is unable to talk with 
her as an equal. 

Donna Allen 

February 1970 



The plea for gradualism usually comes from men who 
(they would like us to believe) are solicitous for the 
success of our movement, but who are actually made 
profoundly nervous by the idea of any far-reaching 
liberation of women from womanhood into personhood. 

They warn us, helpfully, that we should deal with 
the "more obvious" issues, the ones we "can hope to 
win at", by which they mean the public issues such as 
job equality. 

Women who hear this advice as a thinly veiled threat 
("don't be so greedy or we won't give you anything ") 
and who feel that their advancement depends upon win¬ 
ning the hearts and minds of men, are frightened into 

Unfortunately, the modest and ladylike approach of 
devoting your energies to working for your legal rights 
to job equality will never change women's material 
situation in any significant way. 

First of all, it's logically inconsistent to accept 
social inferiority but demand job equality. If women 
are to be subservient to men in the home, why should 
they have any different relation to men in the world 

Secondly, unless these basic relations are changed, 
it will be impossible in practice to win any equality 
or respect in the public world. 

Men's relation to women on a personal level is the 
most basic relation, and their treatment of them on a 
public level is merely a superficial expression of 

It's true that we see that some men can learn to 
cope with the phenomenon of women who are their equals, 
or almost their equals, in the working world, as long 
as their cozy domestic arrangement with its physical 
and psychological comforts is not disturbed. 

But they can rationalize that these few women 
colleagues are not threats to the profitable doctrine 
of male supremacy because working women are not true 
women but misfits; if they were successful as women 
they wouldn't have to seek fulfillment in the male 

However capable the women may be, the men need never 
think of them as ultimately equal since their essential 


natures are as biological (sexual) creatures (wives 
and mothers) and they have failed at that. Ultimately, 
then, the more successful a woman is the more pathetic 
she is. 

That reassuring knowledge, plus his stock of 
"gallantries*' that simultaneously illustrate and pre¬ 
serve the social inferiority of women and his stock of 
stereotypes of "women bosses" (aggressive, paranoid, 
lesbian, possessed of all the male qualities that are 
unlovely in women plus all the feminine qualities like 
over-emotionalism that men consider themselves above) 

—all this permits a man to tolerate a fair number of 
women having some degree of job "equality"—especially 
if there aren't enough qualified men to fill the jobs. 

But as long as men keep their basic attitudes about 
women's nature the women will be thrown out as fast as 
there are enough qualified male applicants. And why 
not? The men are the breadwinners, the women are just 
occupying themselves. Let them go home and have babies 
and bake bread and make love. 

And in fact society as a whole would never permit 
all women to go to work (even if the economy could 
absorb them) because it would destroy the family as we 
know it. 

It is exactly this family, the cozy little domestic 
arrangement we mentioned, that we weren't going to 
touch out of fear that it might turn some men off, men 
who might otherwise have been willing to set aside 
their prejudices and give us a job if we could convince 
them that it was profitable. 

The trouble is that men often think it is unprofit¬ 
able to hire women because of their prejudices, because 
of their most basic attitudes toward women and their 
investment in women's social inferiority. These 
prejudices make them think things about women that 
prove the women are unsuitable, or at best less 
valuable, employees. 

But it's not just a matter of lack of information. 
The information is available, often right before their 
eyes in their own departments. The misinformation , 
the myths about women as inferior workers, is created 
because the men have strong prejudices, strong invest¬ 
ments in women's social inferiority. The myths are 
not the cause of the prejudice. 

And you can't talk people into setting aside 


prejudice. You can put some pressure on them through 
legal means to restrain their natural instincts. But 
this is not as easy as it sounds: you must win over not 
just the legislators but the enforcement bureaus and 
the courts—currently all strongly sexist just like 
the rest of society, with strong prejudices about wo¬ 
men's proper place and the sort of woman who would re¬ 
gister a legal complaint that she was discriminated 

Moreover, even if there existed no prejudice at all 
on the part of employers, many women still would not 
want to work. They have been too well taught that 
their place is in the home; that marriage is the only 
honorable career for a woman; that it's a nasty world 
out there, one only a man's stronger constitution could 
stand up against; that it is unethical for them to go 
to work and take a job away from a breadwinner; that 
a woman's "competing" with her husband by going to 
work is castrating to him (ruining their sex life no 
doubt), that working women are unfeminine and unattrac¬ 
tive; that her children will become juvenile delin¬ 
quents if she doesn't stay with them all day; that if 
she loves her husband and wants a good marriage she 
will devote herself to his needs, physical and emo¬ 
tional, making herself and the house she runs a cozy 
refuge for him. 

Change the social condition of women, and you under¬ 
mine the attitudes not just of the employers but of 
the legislators and the judges too, and of the women 
who are afraid to take the jobs lest they fail as wo¬ 
men. If women have the right to be equally legitimate 
autonomous human beings, not subservient to men in 
social situations or in the family, then their right 
to job equality is clear. As long, on the other hand, 
as women take a secondary and complementary role so¬ 
cially and in the family, there will always be a cer¬ 
tain logic to discriminating against them in the 
working world. 

Dana Densmore 

May 1969 

"In our culture men are unsexed by failure, women 
by success." 

Margaret Mead 



An increasingly detailed study of human societies 
brings out evidence of the female's enslavement to 
her biological function of reproduction. In ancient 
(or contemporary) matrilineal societies a child's 
descent is determined through its mother. The father 
is considered less important as an individual than 
the totality of the clan of which the mother is a 
part. The rearing of a male child is entrusted to 
the mother's brother (the child's uncle). The acti¬ 
vities of the males are different from those of the 
females; even in those few societies where men take 
care of little children/ a woman is first defined by 
her role as breeder. It was important throughout 
history that she bear as many new persons as possible, 
since so few survived infancy. 

The female's intimate relationship with natural 
processes of life, while restricting her mobility, 
benefited her when the male had very little control 
over nature. But his mobility, the freedom of his 
activities from internal processes of pregnancy, even 
at that early time gave him a basis for his intellec¬ 
tual and technical advance - a scientific progress 
which would only in secondary ways lighten the labor 
of females for the species. It is with this know¬ 
ledge in mind that the questions of birth control and 
abortion should be considered. The word female refers 
to the fruit or egg-producing members of a species. 

At first female people were thought to mysteriously 
contain the life force, and conversely, during men¬ 
struation and old age to produce degeneration and 
death in persons and crops. It seemed correct to 
put responsibility for fertility upon a woman. As 
individual men came to tame nature for their property, 
to distinguish themselves as masters and fathers from 
the continuing community of females, the power of the 
male seed was recognized as activating woman's pas¬ 
sive womb. She was responsible now only for nourish¬ 
ing his life power; she was not able to decide when 
and under what conditions she was to do this work. 

In becoming the property of man within the family sys¬ 
tem, her status was degraded. Any demands she might 
have made to benefit as man did from his evolving in¬ 
dividuality were retarded. Her dependence on his 


cooperation in feeding the child became the basis of 
a system of male protection that institutionalized her 
physical weakness, emotional instability and sexual 

Woman was treated as if she were a field for growing 
crops. If she overproduced or became pregnant by in¬ 
cest or adultery, abortion was practiced on her as the 
most normal method of limiting bad effects to society. 
Primitive means for aborting for instance like extreme 
physical exertion, heat or irritants applied to the 
skin, or instruments inserted into the uterus in¬ 
variably involved suffering and danger to the woman. 
Only when the fetus had "quickened" (moved in the womb) 
was it considered a living being and the operation 
termed illegal. The Christian church of the Middle 
Ages condemned abortion as murder, but since it accep¬ 
ted the theory that fetal growth developed in three 
stages (vegetable, animal, and rational), it tended to 
condemn only the abortion of rational beings. (This 
stage was established as beginning forty days from con¬ 
ception for a male child, ninty for a female.) Not un¬ 
til 1969 when science had made the discovery that a 
female egg existed in the womb before the sperm entered 
the woman did the Catholic Church declare all abortions 

These facts make it clear that females have never 
had a direct part in discovering or defining their 
physical processes, or in the development of medical 
techniques that could give them more control over these 
processes. During the nineteenth century male doctors 
finally applied medical knowledge to women in child¬ 
birth. Male scientists and male doctors explained 
what she needed to eat, what was harmful to her. Male 
psychologists, male psychiatrists began to trace the 
causes and effects of her physiological makeup. Birth 
control devices were manufactured. 

Today the choice offered to females is sexual acti¬ 
vity with or without motherhood, but only certain 
classes of women are able to acquire or afford the con¬ 
traceptive devices that for the first time in history 
give females release from expecting pregnancy. Poor 
women still add child after child to the masses. Birth 
control is seen as population control; the chemistry of 
the pill behaves like an anti-fertilizer in keeping the 
crop of the people to a predictable size. It is no 


longer necessary that many children be born, in order 
that there be some to survive. But the decision to 
have children is imposed from above by the male hier- 
archy of science, education, and opinion which invar¬ 
iably blames her for her female condition - a condi¬ 
tion she is trained to respond to with maternal beha¬ 
vior. No other satisfaction or individual existence 
is allowed her. Like women of all previous societies 
she is not distinguished from her sexuality. If she 
is poor, it is assumed that she reproduces the poverty 
that degrades her, that she is responsible for choos¬ 
ing to be helpless and insignificant; and yet it is 
clear that very few women, poor or rich, have access 
to the knowledge and techniques that would give them 
the control over their bodies that is basic to making 
a free decision about their role in society. 

Hilary Langhorst 

A woman is like a bag of dates; when full, she is use¬ 
ful in more ways than one, when empty she is of no fur¬ 
ther use and can be thrown away. 

Middle Eastern proverb 

A cradle consecrates the mother of the family, 
and more cradles sanctify and glorify her before her 
husband and children, before Church and home land. 
The mother who complains because a new child presses 
against her bosom seeking nourishment at her breast 
is foolish, ignorant of herself, and unhappy. 

Pius XII 

Address to Women of Catholic Action 
26 October, 1941 



Laws especially designed for the "protection" of 
women are, in reality, legally sanctioned forms of 
exploitation. The principle behind them is similar 
to the "separate but equal" hoax. The fact that em¬ 
ployers and male employees invoke these laws in order 
to discriminate and exploit women is undeniably clear 
if one bothers to take a look at any of the pamphlets 
put out by the Women's Bureau of the United States 
Department of Labor. For instance, 11.2 million women 
were living in poverty as of 1966. Today 5.2 million 
families are headed by females; many of them work but 
cannot make enough to pull themselves and their fami¬ 
lies out of poverty. 

Often when jobs are available in the community 
women aren't considered qualified to fill them. In 
the Department of Labor literature the occupations 
women hold are referred to as the least rewarding and 
the least rewarded. It was calculated that manufac¬ 
turing companies realized profits of 5.4 billion in 
1950 because they paid women less per year than the 
wages paid to men for similar work. The median income 
for a female headed family is $4,450 a year. Why are 
women cheated so consistently in regard to the wages 
they receive and the jobs they are allowed to take? 

Certainly the 'weight lifting' provisions for 
women and the state hour laws for women are contri¬ 
buting to her oppression. In the first place the 
fact that women and children are included together 
in the hours' laws infers that a woman has the status 
of a minor, is not quite mature enough to regulate 
her own hours but must abide the dictates of the male 
law makers for her own protection. She is limited 
to a maximum of 9 hours a day that she can work, and 
to 48 hours per week. Of course, this prohibits her 
from working overtime and making time-and-a-half or 
double-time pay which would surely be a boon with her 
meager wages. Instead, if she is piled up with work, 
she has to try and do it all in the hours allotted to 
her by law, while the over-time pay will go to some 
man who isn't hampered by restrictive legislation. 

How fortunate for employer and/or male employee 1 

The weight lifting provision is of the same op¬ 
pressive restrictive nature. In every industry, un- 


less she uses some kind of a device to carry the 
weight/ a woman isn’t allowed to lift more than 40 
lbs. She is not allowed to push 75 lbs. or over. She 
can be fined up to $50 if she does. Women are also 
barred from high paying construction jobs on the same 
grounds. In the foundries and the coal industries 
women aren't allowed to pick up more than 25 lbs. to 
carry. This contradicts the fact that many women pick 
up and carry around children who weigh as much or more 
than 40 lbs. f lug groceries/ and move furniture. Of 
course/ all this is done in the home/ so she is not 
depriving any man of a job or wages. Nobody would 
think of fining her or turning her jobs over to men. 
These restrictions are just one way of keeping women 
in the lowest paying jobs. 

For example/ 1.7 million women are employed as do¬ 
mestic workers at $1/299 full time per year. 4.3 mil¬ 
lion women are employed as service workers/ (cooks/ 
waitresses/ nurses/ etc.) at $2/815 full time a year. 
1.9 million as sales workers at $3/103 full time per 
year. The unemployment rate for women in 1967 was 
5.2% compared with 3.1% for men. These obsolete laws 
are helping to contribute to the inferior status of 
women in the labor force. 

Betsy Warrior 

The history of mankind is a history of repeated in¬ 
juries and usurpations on the part of man toward wo¬ 
men/ having in direct object the establishment of ab¬ 
solute tyranny over her...He has created a false pub¬ 
lic sentiment by giving to the world a different code 
of morals for men and women/ by which moral delinquen¬ 
cies which exclude women from society/ are not only 
tolerated/ but deemed of little account in man. He 
has endeavored in every way that he could to destroy 
her confidence in her powers, to lessen her self-res¬ 
pect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and 
abject life. 

Declaration of Sentiments passed at the first 

Women’s Rights Convention/ Seneca Falls/ N.Y., 1848 



Sexism will exist as long as males are able to use 
the threat of physical force against females. All 
males exercise this privilege of physical power re¬ 
gardless of the material reality of their own bodies, 
because it, like all other sexist privileges, is based 
on the lack of that privilege for the female. So, no 
matter how weak or strong a male is in comparison to 
other males, he is always stronger than a female. All 
male privileges are interpreted by sexist societies as 
being privileges for the female also. The privilege 
of self protection for all people does not exist ( 
because it denies the necessary sexist relationship of 
strength over weakness. So, in order to maintain her 
weakness, the female is given the privilege of male 
protection. And this is extended in society so males 
become the protectors of all people - children and 

But a contradiction arises between this image of 
the male as protector and the real experience of 
females. Part of the daily experience of all female 
people is some form of physical intimidation by males. 
Every female person knows the humiliation of being 
constantly harrassed and solicited by males. Having 
her person talked at, whistled at, yelled at, grunted 
at, hooted and howled at, visually dismembered or 
stared and winked at by males everywhere - on the 
street, at work, in school, at home - everywhere. 
Females suffer the humiliation of having parts of 
their bodies, the breasts, genitals or ass in most 
cases, grabbed, pinched, slapped, patted, poked and 
fondled on the street and in public places by male 
strangers against their will or desire. Females are 
terrorized by male exhibitionists. Are stoned and 
chased by male adolescents. Wives are repeatedly 
raped, beaten and brutalized by their husbands. Thou¬ 
sands of female children, adolescents and adults are 
attacked and forcibly raped by males in sexist soci- 
ties, not to mention the rape of supposedly "consent¬ 
ing" females. 

Every now and then in the rising and falling 
tensions of the contradictions between females and 
males, some one male takes upon himself the entire 
burden of a whole society's hatred of females. The 


phenomenon of sexism reaches its logical outcome in 
the mass slayings, stabbings, rapings, beatings, dis¬ 
memberments, disembowlments and stranglings of females. 
Bodies are found ripped apart, slashed to ribbons, 
tied up and laid out in degrading and humiliating 
postures representing the sickest fantasies of the 
sexist mind. The apologists for sexism dare not bring 
up the question of the miserableness of the relations 
between females and males in general. The individual 
males who engineer these mass purges against females 
do not come from a yacuum. They are the legitimate 
representatives of the sexist nature of the real 
world. Their actions speak for all males as the 
category of people who are the tormentors of females, 
the category of people who possess the power of life 
and death over females. They say that their superior 
physical strength and male protection is a privilege 
for females. But it is not. It is a means of ex¬ 
ploitation and control of females. Male people are 
the enemy of female people and females must exercise 
self protection against their enemy. 

The concept of self defense for females is derived 
from a strong Female Liberation consciousness which 
itself comes from a direct understanding of the 
twisted and degraded lives of females, from an over¬ 
whelming sense of helplessness and impotence - in 
other words, of being female. For centuries the con¬ 
tradiction between females and males has been devel¬ 
oping, passing from one level to another, constantly 
changing but never destroying itself. For that to 
happen these eons of experience must be transformed 
into a concrete body of rational, conceptual know¬ 
ledge which will then become a powerful weapon in the 
hands of females. This is our understanding of the 
process of change in all things and, in particular, 
of the oppression of females. The concept of self 
defense for females is part of this world outlook that 
recognizes that the basis of change lies in the 
material conditions of peoples* lives (being female) 
and that once those conditions are understood (become 
rational knowledge) people will necessarily do what 
is required for themselves to maintain existence. In 
other words, we do not think that women will choose 
to study self defense but that they will find them- 


selves unable to choose not to. 

Jeanne Lafferty and Evelyn Clark 

By GOD. My hand will go through this brick. 
And with it will go weakness, and hand lotion. 
Pink dresses and the fear of catcalls. 

I kneel here, grimly reverent. 

As though at an altar of revolution 
Or doom. 

Gail Murray 
April 1970 



Some women object to Tae Kwon Do (or any similar 
martial art) as self-defense because it is violent 
and to them violence is abhorrent. Such an attitude 
reflects certain conceptions of the nature of women 
and of the nature of violence which serve to maintain 
the oppression of females. 

Traditional ideology places "Woman” on a pedestal. 
Females are seen as qualitatively different and better 
types of beings than males. Women are not supposed 
to be violent. Violence is brutalizing. Women are 
saved from this brutalization by being protected by 
men. Internalizing this view of themselves, many 
women reject the use of violence in self-defense be¬ 
cause they fear becoming like men - who are scarred 
by the use of violence. 

The fact is, however, that females are no better 
or worse than males. They belong to the same species. 
Furthermore, men have not done women any favor "pro¬ 
tecting” them from having to be violent. It is women 
who are "scarred" by violence because they are its 
victims. As long as women try to maintain a supposed 
moral superiority and refuse to stoop to violence, as 
long as they depend on men to protect them, men's 
power to oppress them is maintained. 

Women also object to violence for "moral" reasons. 
The pacifist notion of violence sees it as always ab¬ 
solutely wrong - no one has the right to be violent. 
Violence, however, cannot be considered as an abstract 
concept, divorced from material conditions. In re¬ 
ality, exploitative power relationships ultimately 
rest on violence. Hence, it is no accident that op¬ 
pressed peoples have always been urged to be non¬ 
violent. Pacificism is simply ineffective against a 
violent oppressor. Liberation cannot be achieved 
until they come to understand that they are justified 
in using violence to free themselves. 

Men's power over women is based on violence or the 
threat of violence because of superior physical 
strength. It is utterly unrealistic to think that 
violent attacks against women can be countered effec¬ 
tively in any "nice" way. A woman who refuses to 
risk hurting or killing an attacker is risking her 


life. Women have to be convinced of their absolute 
right as human beings to defend themselves by what¬ 
ever means necessary. 

Pat Galligan 

"Social scientists tell us that the sadist who 
stalks the woman and child is a sick man-although the 
question of why he should be permitted to communicate 
his perverted plague to the innocent has never been 
answered. But the most obvious thing about the ra¬ 
pist, sexual criminal, or child-assaulter is that he 
is a coward. He will not use his energies in the 
world of grown men, because a man can fight back . 

Since this type of criminal advances only into those 
areas of least resistance, it becomes urgent that 
every female in America prepare herself to offer 
swift, devastating resistance to this most disturbing 
category of crime. 

...One cannot deal honestly with a thief or gently 
with a murderer. Power Karate places in a woman's 
hands that very power which enables her to deal with 
a potential killer on his own terms. The author does 
not believe in 'fitting the punishment to the crime.' 
Any man who would physically threaten a woman or child 
must be dealt with in the severest possible way. 
Otherwise what begins as a minor molestation may turn 
into a major attack. The practice of Power Karate 
for fifteen minutes a day, a few days a week, arms 
a woman with instant responses to contain any threat 
right on the spot. 


Craig Lomack 

How to Protect Yourself with Karate 



One question that is always asked in discussions 
about self-defense and at the Tae Kwon Do demonstra¬ 
tions we have given is "Have you ever had to use your 
training?" Using such training does not simply con¬ 
sist in defending yourself against a physical attack. 
The self-confidence that comes from knowing how to 
defend yourself often prevents a physical attack. 

Men attack women in the street because they can in¬ 
timidate women easily. They fear no reprisal. Some 
of these men would not even approach a woman who 
seems self-confident. 

If a man at first abuses you verbally/ you can an¬ 
swer him, confront him instead of falling apart. In 
all likelihood he will back down. Being able to 
answer verbal abuse, which is often an end in itself 
rather than part of a more serious attack, means that 
you no longer have to suppress the indignation felt 
at obscene taunts, that self-destructive rage which 
builds up and is always directed inward because there 
is no way to let it out without risking more abuse. 

Those of us who have studied Tae Kwon Do for some 
time have come to realize that we use our training 
constantly. We cannot consider learning a martial 
art simply as a means of self-defense in the street. 
Most women are not very strong; they require help 
(usually from stronger men) to lift heavy objects. 

They often tire easily from physical exertion. The 
strength and endurance we have developed already 
through systematic physical training has made us 
much more competent to deal with everyday activities. 

We are beginning to realize that the psychological 
consequences of developing a strong body are tremen¬ 
dous. The female body is supposed to be a beautiful 
object. Women often internalize this attitude and 
view their own bodies as things to be looked at rather 
than used, decorated rather than developed. The body 
is separated from the self in a schizoid way rather 
than being felt as an integral part of the self. 

The self-body split which women often experience 
presents the material world as something alien to the 
self, something uncontrollable. Self-confidence de¬ 
pends upon an integrated self-body. The growth of 
the self as whole and autonomous depends largely upon 


a sense of oneself as a competent physical being in a 
material world that can be understood/ a world in 
which we can actualize our potential. The development 
of a strong useful body is central to self realization. 

Pat Galligan 

To my astonishment/ I found that women/ in spite of 
knock-knees and the fact that for centuries a respec¬ 
table woman's leg had not even been mentionable/ could 
at a pinch outrun the average London bobby. Their aim 
with a little practice became good enough to land ripe 
vegetables in ministerial eyes/ their wits sharp enough 
to keep Scotland Yard running around in circles and 
looking very silly. Their capacity for impromptu or¬ 
ganization/ for secrecy and loyalty/ their iconoclas¬ 
tic disregard for class and established order were a 
revelation to all concerned/ but especially themselves 
...The day that/ with a straight left to the jaw, 

I sent a fair-sized CID officer into the orchestra pit 
of the theatre where we were holding one of our belli¬ 
gerent meetings, was the day of my own coming of 
age... For two years of wild and sometimes dangerous 
adventure, I worked and fought alongside vigorous/ 
happy, well-adjusted women who laughed instead of 
tittering/ who walked freely instead of teetering, who 
could outfast Ghandi and come out with a grin and a 
jest. I slept on hard floors between elderly duch¬ 
esses, stout cooks, and young shopgirls. We were of¬ 
ten tired, hurt and frightened. But we were content 
as we had never been. We shared a joy of life that 
we had never known. 

Ida Alexa Ross Wylie 



Women have been denied good health. Their bodies 
have been made into pitifully weak representations of 
the human body. Women have been made into weak depen¬ 
dent beings. Having no physical strength of their own 
to rely on, they must depend on men for the simplest 
of things. Females are denied physical competence. 
Because they are not even fit to do ordinary things, 
it is a chore to walk any distance, climb stairs, 
stand up for any length of time, to do common daily 
physical activity. Is this obvious weakness innate? 

Are females inferior by their very nature? 

Anatomy books show many differences between the male 
and female body. Besides primary and secondary sex 
characteristics, many things such as fatty deposits, 
the thigh slanting inward, sloping shoulders, saddle¬ 
bags, thin necks, small waistline are shown. The 
books are basically correct. This is a true descrip¬ 
tion of how women appear today. But the books do not 
explain why women look this way, how they got to be 
this way, why they stay this way. They do not say 
that one's shoulders will slope if one has no muscles 
to give them form, that one would have a tiny waist 
if one has no abdominal and lower back muscles. Women's 
necks are barely strong enough to hold up their heads. 
The physical growth of females has been stunted. Their 
human potential has been denied them. When females 
have been denied the opportunity to develop strength, 
when they are taught that their weakness is^ their 
strength, when their soft, muscleless bodies are dis¬ 
played as beautiful, how can one expect that females 
would have developed strong, healthy human bodies. 

It is no accident that male bodies are called 
builds and female bodies are figures. Male bodies are 
useful, powerful. The female body is something only 
to be looked at, a sketchy outline of the human body. 
This can be seen most clearly by examining the clothing 
ascribed to women, the image they are supposed to re¬ 
present. Skirts, sleeveless and neckless tops expose 
legs, arms, shoulders, necks. They are displaying 
their very weakness as beautiful. They segment the 
body into portions to be looked at. Women's bodies 
are for looks only.- They are something to be dis- 


played, not to be used. Men's bodies aren't broken 
down into pieces like that. Their legs aren't seen 
as legs, but as part of their whole body - a useful 
coordinated whole. 

But this myth can be destroyed. Females can shrug 
off their shackles of weakness and have healthy com¬ 
petent bodies. Look at female athletes - swimmers, 
track people - those privileged healthy few. They do 
not have sloping shoulders/ pinched waists, saddle¬ 
bags. On the contrary, they have good healthy builds. 
Many of us have personally observed this change in the 
female body. We have been studying Tae Kwon Do (Korean 
karate) for several months. When many of us began we 
were quite overweight, couldn't bear to stand up for 
any length of time (even a subway trip), found walking 
hard. Slowly we can see and feel our bodies change. 
After hard practice, dumbbells, situps, and good eating 
habits, we can see muscle replacing fat. Our bodies 
look and feel different. They look more like what is 
thought of as the male body. We no longer have bulging 
saddlebags, big hips, and a distorted waist. We now 
see that the so-called "feminine body" is a myth, that 
there is no real basis for the differences in the male 
and female bodies. Except for the genitals and secon¬ 
dary sex characteristics, all else is contrived. The 
real difference is in lack of muscle. 

A whole scheme of ideas, conditions, expectations— 
oppression—has evolved around the biological, anatomi¬ 
cal differences between male and female. It is now be¬ 
lieved that females are weaker than men, that there 
must be a division between the things that men can do 
and those that women can do. This belief will continue 
to be perpetuated until we stop it. It must be crushed 
at its root. Females must change the basic condition 
that keeps them enslaved. Females as a group must be¬ 
come healthy, strong, and physically competent. Young 
females must begin learning and training now so that 
they may never be impotent. All females must learn how 
to take care of themselves. We must learn self-defense 
to protect ourselves against the other sex which seeks 
to keep us "in our place", dependent, something less 
than human. 

Delpfine Welch 
April, 1970 



Once we have grasped the nature of our oppression, 
it is not enough to talk about it. We must concretely 
change aspects of our social existence in everyday 
life. The categories this society gives us to work 
with are "woman" and "man". It is quite obvious that 
we are female human beings, and that in negating and 
throwing off that oppression which is "woman" (the 
cultural "sphere of being" encaging females) , we must 
create our own form of existence. "Man" is not the 
appropriate alternative. Through our appearance, 
action and collective behavior we must actively produce 
a counter-sexuality. 

As long as a female is a woman or girl—wears femi¬ 
nine clothes, long hair, make-up, jewelry—in spite of 
all her rationalizations she continues to produce her¬ 
self as a woman in this society*s particular mode of 
production. Consciousness depends not only on stric¬ 
tly economic position, but on the material conditions 
surrounding the social person we produce—how we dress, 
talk and act. To change consciousness, one must change 
these conditions. 

Wearing comfortable clothing such as pants and 
sturdy shoes is not only a matter of convenience, 
though, of course it is a pre-requisite of freedom 
in daily life to wear clothing that is functional, 
sturdy, and that provides freedom of movement. Our 
em-bodied self-definition, psychologically, socially 
and practically, is also intimately bound up with the 
type of clothes one wears and the significance attached 
to them. One thus learns to handle and coordinate 
one's body in specific ways as a sexed person, becoming 
conscious in specific ways of different areas of the 

Perhaps the most striking way skirts are related to 
this, for example, is in producing a consciousness of 
legs. In a skirt legs are exposed—they are to^ be 
seen . That becomes their primary significance. In 
pants, on the other hand, legs aren't thought of as 
"legs" per se . They are that part of the body that 
is used for walking, running, or kicking. Rather than 
being lifted from the whole active body to be viewed 
(and in skirts, you exercise no control over this) and 


treated as objects, they are intimately bound up with 
the subject's own movement and activity. Just look 
at the way people place their legs in sitting on the 
subway—and what gets stared at. Skirts clearly limit 
your position. One stands differently in pants. One 
walks differently. 

Arms and breasts—in "blouses" the purpose of the 
clothing is to create the illusion of, or draw atten¬ 
tion to, a peculiarly feminine figure. In more func¬ 
tional jerseys or shirts, arms become part of an 
active, self-controlled and used body. Or take our 
faces—the very addition of make-up is referred to as 
"putting on your face"—a face that must flirt and 
smile, be a certain type of mask. Hair, like clothing 
and stance, is defined according to sex. It is usually 
displayed by women as hair , when it is deliberately 
curled or long. And if one is dressed sensibly, in 
pants, it remains the most obvious identifying mark of 
being a woman. 

What does it mean to dismember our physical-based 
personality this way into masks, images, fragments at 
the request of a generalized male other? The very re¬ 
sistance women feel to giving up these things—skirts, 
make-up, long hair—is a good indication of how deeply 
imbedded these "trivia" are in the almost moral com¬ 
pulsion to produce an image, an acceptable sexual 

One of the important aspects of these sorts of 
changes is that it enables us to negate a specifically 
feminine type of competition. Dressing plainly, 
wearing short hair, is not primarily apeing males, 
but is an attempt to do away with the trap of image- 
producing, the activity in terms of which women have 
created their alienated identity since childhood. 
Individually, the person is split into the "I" who 
organizes and creates the self as commodity in response 
to demand, the image, and what I imagine the response 
to be in the one who looks on and evaluates, the be¬ 
holder that I allow to create me, in turn, as an ob¬ 
ject. Socially, it is impossible to have any base for 
a community with other females as long as one is vying 
for the attention of males. The feminine image enters 
into competition with other women producing images. 


We judge other women then in a continual sizing-up 
pro cess--not even in terms of how we are toward each 
other, but in terms of how this or that self-presen¬ 
tation does in market-place of female objectification, 
what a "good-looking woman" is, defined by the gener¬ 
alized male beholder. 

When for so long our goals and gratification have 
been defined as succeeding in this twisted image- 
producing, approval-inducing, morally and physically 
crippling behavior, changes force us to ask the ques¬ 
tion "Who am I if I am not a 'girl'?" And they free 
us to begin to answer who we want to be as free female 
human beings. 

Barbara Deck 
April, 1970 

Food is breath, clothing a protection. 

Gold an ornament, cattle lead to marriage. 

A wife is a comrade, a daughter a misery 
And a son a light in the highest heaven. 

exerpt from one of the Rig-Veda Brahmanas 

"Insecure men are made nervous hy successful 
women. These men need women’s weakness to prove 
their own masculinity. When women are not submis¬ 
sive, there is a male "backlash"." 

Martin Gruberg 
Women in American Politics 



Nancy : The more women are getting together and getting 
themselves together the more men feel threatened. 

Three different men I know that don't know each other 
and who have some degree of consciousness about the 
women's movement... they all know for example, that 
I'm learning karate and they know other women who are 
and each one of them has told me within the last month 
or so that he is thinking of learning karate l None of 
them has ever been interested in this before and they 
really feel threatened. "Yes, women should know it" 
but all of a sudden it's hitting them that suddenly 
the woman is going to actually have more physical 
power than he is. They're going to have to learn 
karate and be better at it. 

Janet : Do they talk about it honestly or do they say 
that it's just as dangerous for them to be on the 
street as a woman? 

Nancy : No, none of them see it as a reaction to wo¬ 
men's liberation. 

Holly : They say that they're learning it merely as a 
defense against "police repression"! 

Janet : Yeah, or the rising crime rate! 

Nancy : They say "It's something I've been wanting to 
do for a long time. It sounds great." 

Holly : Uh huh, "Now that I think about it...It's really 
necessary for me." 

Nancy : I work part-time as a waitress and the chef is 
German and very authoritarian. He knows how I feel 
about women's liberation but he pulled me aside and 
said he really felt threatened by me. He didn't say 
it in those words but he said first, "What you need is 
a man" and second he said that I represent a very 
strong challenge to him. He verbalized it that way. 
Holly : "To conquer you, a liberated woman!" 

Nancy : Because here I am and someday even though I 
haven't met him yet, I'm going to meet my male match. 
This other man at work who is very strong physically 
and was in the Marine Corps in Vietnam seven years 
ago, who's done alot of street fighting used to tell 
me about his exploits and now that I've been learning 
karate his attitude toward me has suddenly changed. 
Holly : Not so impressionable now that you have that 
knowledge, too, and have a greater necessity to use 



Nancy : It*s a subtle change but he feels that whenever 
he says anything that's asserting his chauvinism, I 
counteract. It’s a physical response. He's very wary 
all the time. In Fanshen the men would talk about how 
the women needed to be liberated yet they wouldn't let 
their wives go to the Women's Association meetings. 

"We can't let our women get together." This relates 
to what was said earlier about the oppressor who turns 
his hostility, focuses on in-faction hostility. Women 
always have gripes about other women, gossip, etc. 
You're forced to fight against women who are with you. 
You're encouraged by the oppressor. 

Holly : What it's important for us to recognize is that 
in-group fighting is often a result of fear against 
lashing out openly against men. That our hostility is 
suppressed and redirected against people of our own 
sex, against ourselves, our children or against other 
powerless groups of people. We adopt a submissive 
behavior when dealing with the very people that con¬ 
tinue to humiliate us. One of the nearest things to 
an in-group attitude is often refusing to show special 
attention to men as we have continually done in the 
past. Relating to women and becoming secretive to 
men's eyes is really threatening. They don't know how 
to cope with women who enjoy being together and who 
act very differently than when they're with men. Two 
different ways of acting... 

Janet : About withdrawing affection, I realize now how 
completely you're expected to give to them in order to 
have them talk to you. It's not enough to talk the 
way men talk with each other. You have to just lavish 
attention on them or else they just don't come around. 
Now that I don't manufacture something to say if I 
have nothing to say, they no longer pay attention. 
You're supposed to hang on their every word, ease the 
silence with a clever remark or another question about 
what they're doing. 

Holly : I always felt the extreme tension of silence 
with men. The whole responsibility was on ME to ask 
HIM what he was thinking. What deep and important, 
powerful thought could be in his mind! 

Nancy : Whereas it's perfectly natural to be with wo¬ 
men and not say anything. 


Holly ; Yeah, but men feel as though something is going 
on behind their backs when women demand privacy of 
their own or begin to like each other, to prefer each 
other's company rather than theirs. This often leads 
to the statement, "The longer I live with them, the 
less I know them." What mysteries! 

Holly : In the past few months I've had dreams about 
using karate on the streets. Striking out in de¬ 
grading circumstances... 

Janet : You DO dream and it's so related to what you're 
doing and thinking. This friend of mine at work who 
isn't taking it but hears me talking about it...SHE 
started dreaming! She had one dream where she wanted 
to know karate and she didn't. She told me that the 
other day and she thouqht, "Here's why I need it!" 

Holly : Or daydreams... all of these reactions come 
from somewhere. They're real, they're real symptoms, 
real reactions against real fear. 

Nancy : When I was younger I dreamt often about being 
chased, etc. Now the kinds of things that happen you 
have the power to deal with the situation. There is 
a conclusion to them, on some level, and you can, they 
do serve as release as well. They're not something 
that reinforces your helplessness. When I was younger, 
it was the SAME thing over and over, in different forms 
but the same helplessness. 

Holly : I found that alot of fantasies I had were real - 
of terror of being followed, confrontation. Sometimes 
I was being followed, sometimes not, but my fear was 
real, and the situation was a potential situation of 

Janet : Now when I'm in my apartment alone I'm SURE of 
what my reaction would be. I KNOW I'd clobber the 
hell out of him! I find all sorts of things that 
bothered me but I never had any way of organizing them. 
Before, every tiling was pointless to think about because 
there was no way to deal with them. Now there is. 

Is it so hard to understand that emancipation, the 
right to full humanity, was important enough to gen¬ 
erations of women, still alive or only recently dead, 
that some fought with their fists, and went to jail 
and even died for it? 

Betty Friedan 

The Feminine Mystique 




I became more confident as I began to shape up as a 
woman (thanks to Richard) • I trained myself to see 
how I looked to men, although I might have said then 
that it was to other people. It was quite a painful 
process because I realized how dowdy and ridiculous my 
clothes were, how clumsy I was. Desperately, I wanted 
to be appreciated in any way possible. Richard saw 
every effect of my external appearance and responded 
to certain kinds of behavior; clearly I ought to 
imitate what was important to him if I were to be 
significant. Even when I questioned some one thing, 
the way he noticed me was never doubted as essential 
to my being "beautiful". Other men repeated the sort 
of concern he had according to their own preferences 
of what was marvelous in a woman. Every new man re¬ 
quired a readjustment of style, not of usage. It 
seemed as if I was drastically changed by new rela¬ 
tionships with first Farman and then Kenneth, yet they 
wanted particular kinds of women, liked or loved me 
for the services I performed for them - services of 
admiration, attention, actual physical care, sexual 
availability, perception about aspects of life they 
could not allow themselves to consider (for instance, 
other people's feelings). These services did not 

I remember that at this time when I was so absorbed 
with making an image that would appeal to a man, I 
put down other women. The sense of competition was 
degrading. The same behavior I practiced to be 
sexually desirable made it impossible for me to feel 
valuable apart from the effort to please. Mistrusting 
myself, I feared other women, who might possess more 
skill or more natural attributes. The nature of my 
experience as a child, isolated from other children 
and subject to the arbitrary power of adults to ad¬ 
minister affection, turned me to the inward creation 
of an imaginary, personal and unique empire (ruled by 
me under a different name). This choice did not 
develop in me the outward qualities of perception and 
sympathy that are seen to radiate from a "mothering" 
woman. Instead I was inclined to accept myself 
passively as a sensual being. Not so much a woman 


good in bed, a healthy handsome girl, but as an 
artistic object to be selected by a man of taste. A 
woman with peculiar habits, strange glances, a mystery 
that could suggest a painting or a novel. This magic 
I could create, I thought. I didn't rely on my face 
or figure to be sufficient attraction, or on being 
amusing and clever, or on good nature - peculiarity, 
uniqueness was the only method that seemed to suit a 
person with the name and history of Hilary. 

All of these emerging thoughts and purposes reveal¬ 
ed themselves in friendships I had with other women. 

I was continually jealous, envious of every little 
gain a man or woman made. It seemed as if I could go 
nowhere. Then when I began Art School some confidence 
appeared. There could be a career. Something could 
be done that was objectively measurable' and did not 
imply a positive or negative judgment upon me. But 
this hope was not real. Art seemed to offer a way for 
me to extend who and what I was into an objective 
world. I hoped to define myself in an immense terri¬ 
tory, that I had assumed did not belong to me, was 
forever closed to me as a person unfamiliar with tech¬ 
niques of controlling reality. There had been no 
evidence that I could control material conditions. 

Art School, it turned out, did not contradict this. 

First of all I was female. My painting therefore 
was personal therapy before it was an objective 
statement of colors and forms ("artistic truth"). I 
did paint concentrating upon my own vision; everyone 
did. But my subjectivity was qualitatively not the 
same as the subjectivity of any one of the male 
painters. What I recognized, what was real to me 
within my axperience, made no sense in confrontation 
with what they individually or taken all together as 
men described. At the time, i presented this fact to 
myself as the result of the way I lived compared to 
the way they as men were able to live. They removed 
themselves from friends, lovers, all people when 
human demands conflicted with Art. They were sure 
that even if they did not paint excellently yet, they 
could find out the truths that would enable them to 
forge ahead. 

Even while I doubted every stroke I put down on a 
canvas and clung to mythology as the only recogniz¬ 
able outcome of my childhood, I did begin to be able 


to talk about real situations. There was something in 
my head besides fancies and emotions. Females are 
continually made helpless by being fed cast-off ideas. 
They are made to believe that intuition, internal 
feelings can create events, but there is absolutely no 
science in this. They develop tools of manipulation, 
not of direct control. And then they are encouraged, 
as I was, to use their imagination to fill in all the 
blank spaces in their education; that imagination is 
good enough power for a woman's mind to operate on. 

She is cute and amusing, much the way a child is funny 
when it misinterprets reality on the basis of its 
faulty knowledge. A female does not need to disci¬ 
pline her mind, to try to be accurate or objective. 
This would lead her to understand how to master 
nature, instead of her remaining in a confused and 
terrifying limbo, always seeking male clarification. 

I know you went about becoming yourself in a dif¬ 
ferent way. Perhaps part of that lies in your Jewish 
background with its tradition of strong women in the 
family. I had some knowledge of such women from the 
southern upbringing of my mother. Although she rebel¬ 
led against becoming enduring and sustaining, there 
was no pattern of strength that gave her freedom from 
needing a man to complete herself. 

By going to New York University and then taking a 
solid job away from your family you had a base from 
which to begin building relationships with people that 
were not so obviously sexual. I can see better how 
this was possible (although difficult) for you, and 
how I had to do quite differently. Our desire was the 
same - to be close to people, to be important to them. 
I assumed my worth was to become concrete through sex. 
Because I concentrated on sexual relationships the 
contradictions between men and women grew clear; men 
only loved me when they could control me (or assumed 
they could win control of me) and this power they 
claimed always weakened and ridiculed my existence as 
an independent human being. Not that men are really 
independent of women; they need their services, their 
submission desperately; still they are able to remove 
their minds from any attachment to a female, to sub¬ 
ordinate their dependency in ways that leave them 
free to give first attention to Reality, Nature (or 
whatever abstract you may term it) and only second 


concern to other human beings. 

We have done different things but our choices have 
been dictated within a female realm. What have been 
pointed out to us as strengths (intuition, sensitivity, 
for example) have kept us agreeable to an arrangement 
of power that defines, by reserving all initiative 
thought to male people, that females as a caste can 
never determine their own destiny. 


Long before I heard that females as a caste were 
oppressed by males (SEXISM) I believed that "commun¬ 
ism" was a more humane system than capitalism. My 
Christian grandparents were devoted to that idea. But, 
as a child, I had no understanding of the terms used. 
They were abstractions - as remote in time and signif¬ 
icance from daily life as heaven and hell. Only it 
made more sense to talk about material things, 
than about angels or miracles. I felt open to 
the use of the word "communism"; it could be good if 
it meant a change in the way things were. For it was 
clear that my life, other people's lives and almost 
everything I looked at were distorted and crazy. In¬ 
separable from what was called beautiful was something 
horrifying. The joy/pain syndrome; the love/hate 
cycle. People would say: that is the way the world 
is. And suggest that I adjust and make the best of 
it; if I could only get to smiling and being confi¬ 
dent, life would go along very well. I really thought 
there was something quite wrong in me that I could not 
enjoy life; a pleasure quickly made me miserable. I 
mistrusted the way things had to happen, myself for 
distrusting Reality, and everyone else for seeming to 
accept it. 

In college, when many people start realizing that 
adult life is not what has been taught them as child¬ 
ren in a family, I began to forget about how I dreamed 
of the world changing. All my energy went into be¬ 
coming intelligent, attractive, able to function 
without being terrified of my helplessness - the 
helplessness that is the root of childhood. It was 
an intensely selfish period. I don't like reviewing 
it at all as it is quite humiliating to see how mis¬ 
informed and misled I was about what I had to do to 
be a good ("desirable") human being. 


When I began to learn about Female Liberation all 
this work was overthrown. In fact, I had more work to 
do to get rid of the destructive habits I had adopted: 
an obsession with dress, a gentle and fragile manner, 
artistic conversation and poses, long hair. All of 
this confused and retarded my thinking, distracting me 
from discovering what I really needed. For a long 
time I just tried to get all the bad conditioning 
clear, to see what could not remain the same as before. 
I kept doing some of the same things: going to school, 
trying to be intelligent by studying book after book, 
but not making sense of them. Finally I had to de¬ 
cide to stop being a student. Even then I couldn't 
explain why that had to happen. It was critical to 
learn and I was not sure how I could learn outside of 
school. I doubted if I had the strength to push my¬ 
self out of daily lethargies. But to continue to take 
in information I could no longer use was ridiculous. 

The importance of knowing a specific subject or of 
writing an imaginative, original paper was not going 
to make me the respected person I had anticipated. I 
could be "important" (that was how I expressed my 
craving then) only if I could control myself; that 
control came not, as I used to believe, from imagin¬ 
ative thought expanded outward, but from an under¬ 
standing of the material conditions shaping me. 

Understanding myself as a female came to examining 
myself within the concrete situation of capitalist 
society and of knowing what were the conditions under 
which women had previously been forced to live. When 
all the struggle I had been going through for ten 
months culminated in this realization, it struck me, 
simultaneously, that this was the way Marxist thought 
was meant to be arrived at. It was necessary for me 
to know who I was and that was a concrete problem that 
could be best handled objectively, scientifically - 
not personally and emotionally as I had always done. 

No one told me this would happen. I just had to see 
my experience as a female apart from the way I had 
thought of myself as a "woman". Then, starting to 
read Marx and Engels and Mao, I found that their 
ideas were useful tools for going on further. My 
school education gave little information for this; it 
tended to keep my mind isolated from daily conditions. 
Perception and thought were divided and antagonistic; 


the language taught me compartmentalized phenomena 
and turned me into a spectator, an individual, separ¬ 
ate from history and from society. As an individual 
I was totally responsible for my fate and was immobil¬ 
ized by "free" choices. There was no way to decide 
what the society was responsible for in my degrada¬ 
tion until every aspect of my life could be seen as 
part of a material context that permitted certain 
development while inhibiting other aspects of human 

What I want to stress is that only a small number 
of women in Women's Liberation, and almost none in 
Female Liberation, have had any sort of real training 
in political thinking, or in radical action. I was 
always alienated from and intimidated by groups doing 
work like that. I desperately wanted to change the 
way I was living and the behavior of the whole damned 
society, but this change had to be basic, so that 
every person would participate as a thinking being in 
this new society. As long as I was weak, incoherent, 
possessive and dominated there was no way I could 
come to a different and better sort of behavior. I 
would simply continue submitting to injustice, brutal¬ 
ization, continue committing self-destruction when not 
striking out at others still weaker and more oppressed. 
This awareness was at the root of my mistrust of 
movements, reforms, etc. It is clear that Female 
Liberation is a consciouness that requires that 
material conditions change: if females learn self- 
defense they are no longer weak and controllable. 

From these changes come further thought and a theory 
about the process by which ideas and practice have 
brought about real alteration in people (revolution). 

In my work I undertake to alter what has traditionally 
been woman's existence. From this comes respect for 
all female people, who are coming to or will be coming 
to fight for their human rights. 

Hilary Langhorst 





Dawn Warrior